Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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10th anniversary of 9/11

The New 9/11 Memorial

The New 9/11 Memorial
Sep 14, 2011 by Victoria Noe
There aren’t a lot of quiet places in New York City. So when I considered the building of a 9/11 Memorial on the site of the World Trade Center, I was skeptical. With the West Side Highway on one side, and Manhattan high rises, stores and construction on the other three, the Memorial seemed doomed. It would be swallowed up, a place where grief would be distracted by jackhammers, sirens and car horns.I was wrong.Yesterday I visited the new 9/11 Memorial. By now you’ve probably seen photos of the two waterfalls, in the footprints of the towers, and the futuristic building that will serve as the entrance to the Museum when it opens next year. The final design took years...

The Buddhists and the Brits Commemorate 9/11

The Buddhists and the Brits Commemorate 9/11
Sep 14, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Bagpipers and Pipe & Drum Corpsat the British GardensWhen most people think of 9/11 observances, they think first of New York, then Washington, then Pennsylvania. They think in terms of Americans remembering the loss of American lives. They think in terms of solemn, patriotic ceremonies, naming the names of those who died; perhaps displaying those names on programs or engraving them in stone. They wave American flags and banners.And while it’s true that most of those who died that day were American citizens, the victims represented 93 countries.The British, to no one’s surprise, conduct a formal ceremony in a tiny slip of park in the middle of Wall Street, called the British Garden (now renamed the Queen Elizabeth 2 Commemorative...

Ground Zero - 10 Years Later

Ground Zero - 10 Years Later
Sep 12, 2011 by Victoria Noe
British & Canadian police officersat Ground Zero“Everything’s different this year.”I wish I had a dollar for every time I said or thought those words, or heard them from someone else yesterday. The anniversary brought many changes to the ceremonies, restrictions and mood.I was at the corner of Liberty & Trinity for the naming ceremony. I didn’t stay for the whole thing; I was there to listen for my classmate’s name. Last year, I realized it had always been mispronounced, and made it my goal for the 10th anniversary to make sure that was corrected.When I heard her name - pronounced correctly - I started to laugh. But instead a sob caught in my throat. It was all I could do...

FROM ONE TO ELEVEN: The Essence of Grief by Damon DiMarco

Sep 11, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Bring them back, God, please bring them back. This is the essence of grief. Not the secret we shared with a lover, divulged, or the song we composed, which the critics destroyed, or long holes torn in the silk of our souls. It’s the truth that you can’t bring them back. I will never forget there are men who fight fires. Or faces that smiled in the hallways, the stairs. Or clerks who vowed to remain at their desks until even their bosses get out.And I want you to bring them back now, God. I want you to please bring them back. Here are some items we found. Look here. This shoe. This pen. This piece of debris. We cherish...

The Arts and 9/11: "110 Stories"

The Arts and 9/11: "110 Stories"
Sep 10, 2011 by Victoria Noe
2,753 empty chairs in Bryant ParkTwo nights.Two plays.Same subject.But as is typical in any art form, two completely different approaches.On Friday night I saw Sarah Tuft’s play, 110 Stories, which benefited the New York Says Thank You Foundation. There were some pretty serious problems at the location that delayed the start of the show for over an hour, but there were also some very stark difference between 110 Stories and The Guys, which I saw Thursday night.Unlike that play, which had only two characters, 110 Stories presents introduces you to 30 people from all walks of life who were at Ground Zero on that day, or involved in the recovery effort. Also a staged reading, the characters were portrayed by...

The Arts and 9/11: "The Guys"

The Arts and 9/11: "The Guys"
Sep 09, 2011 by Victoria Noe
 From the original production Last night I attended a performance of Anne Nelson’s beautiful play, The Guys, starring Sigourney Weaver and Tom Wopat, benefitting the FDNY Foundation.A deceptively simple premise based on the playwright’s personal experience, The Guys tells of a meeting between Joan, an editor, and Nick, an FDNY fire captain. Nick lost 8 men on 9/11, and a week later, needs help writing eulogies for the first four services.The language is real and funny and gut-wrenching, sometimes all at once. Joan gradually draws out stories of each man, as Nick struggles with his grief for his guys, and survivor guilt (he switched shifts with his best friend).He rails against the hero status each has acquired, arguing that...

Tourism and Souvenirs: 9/11-style

Tourism and Souvenirs: 9/11-style
Sep 08, 2011 by Victoria Noe
9/11 Lottery BallsThis is a picture of my “favorite” 9/11-related offense last year: people dressed as a firefighter and police officer lottery balls. They were on a corner a couple blocks from Ground Zero while the Naming Ceremony was going on, and people were posing for pictures with them.Any holiday or important date seems to be fair game for exploitation. We see Martin Luther King weekend mattress sales, after all. Ground Zero may be considered hallowed ground, but the event itself is often used in a disrespectful and purely mercenary way.I’m of two minds here. Many excellent books have been written about the attacks, heroism and recovery efforts: Requiem by Gary Suson, Firehouse by David Halberstam, and of course Tower...

Preserving Stories of 9/11

Preserving Stories of 9/11
Sep 07, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Stories on the Ofrenda at St. Paul's ChapelWhat really separates humans from animals is the ability to tell and record stories. From the beginning of time, men and women have told stories about their lives, their dreams and their beliefs. And they’ve found ways to pass them along: oral storytelling and drawings on the walls of caves; hieroglyphics and illuminated manuscripts; blogs, texts, tweets and books. There are two organizations that are preserving stories about 9/11.Story CorpsSince 2003, Story Corps has collected and archived more than 35,000 interviews from more than 70,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Story Corps is one...

Friend Grief and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Friend Grief and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
Sep 05, 2011 by Victoria Noe
And now, as they say, a programming note: I will be writing from New York City starting September 7th, on the 10th anniversary observances of 9/11. I’m there for two reasons: First, one chapter in my book covers people who lost friends on 9/11; some of those stories also pop up elsewhere in the book. Second, one of my high school classmates died in the South Tower, and I’m going to hear her name read at the Naming Ceremony (hopefully, pronounced correctly this year), and to see her name engraved on the new 9/11 Memorial.I’ll be looking at the anniversary from a number of different perspectives: how the arts and different faiths are observing it, for example. You can expect...