As far as we are from the battlefield, we will feel this war. War crowds out other things. It turns worlds upside down. Our politics already suffers from name calling and labeling, and war gives that game a shot in the arm.
It is possible to support our men and women in uniform and be deeply conflicted or opposed to the war.
My wife and I recently visited Ground Zero in New York City. It would be an overstatement to say that this multi-block segment of lower Manhattan is a vale of tears, but the place is redolent with sentiment.
Just blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, the World Trade Center site is not evident until you are just about upon it. One approaches a blocks-long chain-link fence, through which you may view the massive hole.
One of the miracles of Sept. 11 is that St. Paul's Chapel survived. It lies directly behind the WTC site. In the days following the WTC attack, the chapel became a resting and feeding place for firemen, policemen and other disaster workers.It is possible to support our men and women in uniform and oppose this war. They slept on cots. Massage therapists provided their services gratis to the weary.
The fence around the chapel became a posting place for those seeking news of their loved ones. Most of that is gone, but the chapel is a reliquary of the attack and its aftermath.
The chapel is one of the most historic buildings in the city, dating to 1766. On the day of his inauguration as our first president, George Washington went to the chapel for services. Washington's pew is preserved, and above it hangs a painting of the first seal of the United States of America, designed by Pierre L'Enfant. The ornamental design of "Glory" over the altar was designed by L'Enfant.
Posted outside the chapel's entrance is an article by an architectural writer of The New York Times who expresses his amazement and great relief that St. Paul's Chapel survived the conflagration down the street. He discussed the significance of the building, arguably the most significant structure in New York City, and how he'd often wondered whether the prayers that were said inside the chapel on that day of Washington's inaugural were somehow sealed up inside its walls.
The other prominent historical structure in that neighborhood is Federal Hall, site of Washington's inaugural. However, the building on that site is a customs house that served as a subtreasury during the Civil War. A wooden replica of the original Federal Hall is on Bryant Square several blocks away.
The setting of the movie Gangs of New York is this part of lower Manhattan.
Our days in New York were followed by two days in Savannah, Ga., an exceedingly historic town. More about that in a subsequent installment.
We heard a phenomenal young talent in Peter Cincotti, who is 19 years old and a sophomore at Columbia University. Discovered some seven years ago by Harry Connick Jr., Cincotti writes songs, plays the piano and sings. Hearing this budding showman and his jazz combo within the intimate confines of the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel was like being transported to the nightclub gentility of the 1940s.