On Christina Taylor Green’s first birthday, I spent the day on Vesey Street on the north side of St. Paul’s Chapel. In addition to being Christina’s birthday, it was the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and I was volunteering with the American Red Cross to check in family members attending the memorial service at Ground Zero, assigned to the check-in area
St. Paul’s is a lovely old church a few blocks from Trinity Church, with which it is affiliated, and almost directly across Church Street from the former site of the World Trade Center. After the September 11 attacks it became a respite center, both spiritual and physical, for recovery workers. They stomped into the chapel in their muddy work boots to rest, eat and sometimes to sleep on the pews. After the clean-up of the WTC site was completed, St. Paul’s was cleaned and became the home of a memorial to the rescue and recovery work. Despite the cleaning, a few scuffs remain from those muddy boots, and they are among the Chapel’s most sacred items.
On the wrought iron fence that surrounds St. Paul’s workers and visitors hung tributes to those who died on September 11 and those who worked at the site. On that long anniversary day I found myself going again and again to one t-shirt on the fence. It read: “The bravest thing a firefighter ever does is take the oath. After that it’s all in the line of duty.”
Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to my readers.
Thank you to those who have read and occasionally commented on Circle of Ignorance during its first five months. You’ve made it a wonderful experience as I continue to learn and evolve the blog. Special thanks to my friends on Twitter and LinkedIn (especially Twitter’s #BlogChat) who teach and inspire me through our exchanges. You’ve given me enough ideas to keep posting until the crocuses bloom again in Central Park.
The video posts from last week’s TED Women are beginning to appear on TED‘s website. My brain is still swimming from all the wonderful talks I saw, but two of the first to be posted are from Tuesday’s session, which I didn’t see.
One of the few men to speak was Tony Porter. (There was another man who spoke on Wednesday, when I attended TEDxTribecaWomen. He was terrific and I’ll share it with you when it’s posted on TED’s website.) He tells some very personal stories about growing up and what he thought manhood is supposed to be—and how he later changed his mind. As I suspect is often the case, part of his realization came from being the father of a little girl.
Yesterday I attended a TEDxWomen event in New York City. With a group of other women (and a few men) I watched a full day of TED Talks by and about women—and by a few exceptional men. I wanted to blog about it, but it was too much to put together overnight. Eventually I’ll write about the day, either singly about some of the Talks or collectively about the event. But the penultimate Talk has inspired me to tell a different story.
The next to last speaker was Caroline Casey, a woman who lived the first seventeen years of her life not knowing she is legally blind. Somehow her parents were able to make her believe she could do anything that any of her fully sighted friends and classmates could do.
I happened to attend a college that had an unusually high number of disabled students. Once upon a time, before the Americans with Disabilities Act, Marist College built most of it classroom and dormitory buildings to be wheelchair accessible. After a while it became background. The first time I saw a student who had no arms in the cafeteria, it was a shock. After a while, it became routine. One night in the campus pub he beat me at a video game. Still later, I realized there were students with disabilities that were not visible.