Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: 9/11 (page 1 of 2)

13 years after

9/11, amy jarett, love, life, ISIS


It seems like eons ago that I was selling Steinway pianos for a living.
A musician/artist/writer will do just about anything to get by.
It was a gorgeous Tuesday morning on September 11th that I paused outside the door to work.
I looked at the bluer than blue sky, the shining sun, felt the cool but comfortable breeze on my face and thought,
“What a gorgeous day. Sucks but I have to work.”

It was around 8:50am that the phone rang in the store.
I answered it, “Hello, M.Steinert and Sons, how may I help you?”
It was one of our piano tuners calling to tell me he’d just heard on the radio that a passenger plane just flew into
one of the WTC towers in New York.
He thought it was strange and I agreed. We left it at that.
That CAN happen right?

The phone rang again at @9:05.
I answered again.
“Another plane just hit the other tower.”
Same piano tuner, more urgent.
“What the hell, dude,” I said.
It was at that exact moment that the world as I knew it had changed.
We were no longer the invulnerable United States, we were brought to our knees in front of the world.
An attack that could have and should have been avoided.

Are we safer today?
If we are, I don’t feel like we are.
We currently have an administration that has no viable/visible strength, united voice or ultimate power to
condone or publicly defile such despicable acts.
While I’m still ultimately proud to be an American, I fear for all that are out of our international reach.
These days the United States is powerless.
That is a sad truth.
My prayers go out for all those that were lost those 13 years ago.
I will keep Amy Jarret and her family forever in my thoughts.
As we still mourn, we will take comfort in the thought and hope that there’s something better for us out there.
An that maybe someday we will feel safe.









A New Day

9-11, life, love, regret, sadness


Peter Hanson made a cell phone call to his father at 09:00am on 9.11.01

“It’s getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It’s getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don’t worry, Dad. If it happens, it’ll be very fast….Oh my God… oh my God, oh my God.”

[As the call abruptly ended, Hanson’s father heard a woman screaming.]

In the past few weeks I have had numerous hits on my blog and
70%  of them have been related to the tragedy of  9/11.
It’s a part of our history that will be told from a million different perspectives and from a million different hearts.
A sunny, beautiful and blue sky forever September day that changed the face of the United States forever.
The tenth anniversary of anything as monumental as this will have 99% of people scouring the internet for information regarding one of our nations darkest of days.
On the 5th Anniversary of 9/11 a website was born, dedicated to the writing of tributes to all those taken by this senseless and avoidable tragedy.
I thank Dale Roe for taking on the challenge.

I have written 3 tributes for the site thus far:

Amy Jarret, a stewardess on UA Flight 175
Bobby Minara, a NYC firefighter that was to retire in two months
Steve ‘Jake’ Jacoby, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon.

I decided to write another tribute on this 10th anniversary;
for Peter Hanson, his wife Sue and their 2 ½ year old daughter Christine.
The conversation you read at the top of this post was from Peter Hanson’s cell phone, a message left minutes before Flight UA175 hit the south tower of the
World Trade Center, the plane we all saw live on national TV (and the flight Amy Jarret was on).
My thoughts now are what was going through the mind of Peter.
You are on an airplane that is headed for a destination unknown and you know it’s not a good place.
Consoling a 2 ½ year old is trying enough without knowing that you are about to die.
The plane they were on was descending at 5 to 10,000 feet per minute towards the end.
You can’t explain that to a child.
You probably wouldn’t want to.
My heart broke reading about the final moments of their all-too-short lives.
In my heart, I know they were all together and died in each other’s arms,
a beautiful prayer of sorts.
To the Hanson family, I can’t even begin to estimate the size of your sorrow.
My heart breaks for all of you with the upcoming 10th anniversary on Sunday.
In my mind, I see three candles lit and burning brightly, piercing the darkness.
Three souls together.
Three hearts finally at home, albeit a bit too soon.
God bless you Peter, Sue and  little Christine.
You are all with the angels now.
Of that I am sure.

Maybe it’s time to turn the mourning of 9/11 into the celebration of the people that once were.
Thoughts of death and dying every year on 9/11 is futile.
It gets us nowhere.
Let’s look at celebrating the vibrant lives of all those lost, the unexpected heroes, the ones that gave all that they had, the ones that took a stand on UA Flight 93, a proud moment for Americans everywhere.
September 11th will never be a happy date but I feel it’s one that needs a serious makeover.
It’s been 10 long years of grieving and the United States of America has accomplished so much since.
I say it’s time we show the world just how strong we really are, and can be.
God Bless this land that we love . . .


Feis Ort OBL

And the angels sang . . .

“Póg mo thóin!”


Strange days are these (updated)

As uncomfortable as this picture makes me feel
THIS makes me feel even more uncomfortable.
And it gets more uncomfortable as the days grow long reading about people
that think they deserve equality and justice.
Will we ever wake up and smell the coffee?
When will we finally call a spade a spade?
From the leviathan Gulf oil spill and Mexican border breaches to the ever-simmering clusterfuck in the Middle East,
I feel doomed somedays, for so many reasons.
Just like today.
Maybe we just haven’t found the answers . . .
Got testicles?


***I changed the post picture for the mental stability of my wife

I remember Bobby Minara

Robert Minara, 9/11, World Trade Center, firefighters, NYC

Bobby Minara was a firefighter in Manhattan.
Ladder Company 25.
On September 11, 2001, he was 54 years old and almost ready to retire.
I found the next little snippet online from a woman named ‘Rita’ that knew the family.

The last time I was with Bob was July of 2001.
Bob and Paula and my brothers Tom and Mike were all together to celebrate the baptisim of my daughter’s triplets, John, Michael, and Thomas.
He was his usual happy self and he had
three shirts from the firehouse for the boys (they still wear them).
Bob was going to retire in September and I remember Paula telling us she had a “sick feeling” and she wished he would leave now.  Bob laughed and said “I’m 54, how can I retire “He felt guilty”.
I’ll always remember that day.”

Intuition is a scary thing sometimes.
I wondered how many people had a ‘feeling’ that morning 8 years ago.
From what I’ve been able to find on the web,
Bobby was a regular guy with family and friends that loved him.
He died in the line of duty at the World Trade Center.
In researching this post, I was horrified at the number of firefighters and emergency personnel that perished.
I found the picture for this post on Google and could only assume that the memorial stone is near Ground Zero
or the firehouse.
When I visit NYC next year, I plan on finding the stone if only to say a short prayer
for the man I am paying tribute to today.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Minara family today as I know this nightmare will
never end for them.
Bobby died doing what he’d done his entire life – helping a total stranger to safety.
May God bless this unsung hero and give solace to all the hearts that he left behind.
In closing, I found a quote from a firefighters remembrance page.
It was quite simple and I could almost hear Bobby saying it:

“If my job was easy, a cop would be doing it.”

Rest in the arms of the angels, RM
Thank you for keeping us safe.

(I hope I haven’t offended anyone using his nickname  ‘Bobby’. I used it with the utmost respect.)

Click here for my 2006 tribute to Amy Jarret, a stewardess on United Airlines Flight 175.

Special thanks to Dale for keeping this thing going with his undying focus.
There’s a very special place in heaven for you, my man.

7 years after, a reflection

Though I can’t totally vouch for its authenticity, this hit me emotionally.
It was an email sent to me by my good friend Will.
After reading it, if it ain’t authentic, it certainly makes me remember much of the
imagery of that day.
This guy was definitely there.
Powerful stuff.


There are two images that have not muted with time.
They are exactly 84 months old.
After seven years, these closed eyes still see
the jumpers as vividly as I did that morning.
I counted five in the few minutes between the time
I first turned around to look at the smoldering
North Tower and the time the second explosion rocked the South Tower.
The couple holding hands and flinging themselves
out of an uppermost floor right below the “Windows” restaurant
are framed on my inner eyelids.

They seemed so young to me. He had no jacket and tie.
She had long hair which was illuminated by the bright sun.
It was hard to see much more detail from that distance.
Even now, as I write this, they still seem so young.
Yes, too young, they were much too young.

I often speculate about what was in their minds.
They were knowingly jumping from 100 stories to certain death.
What was it like for them with heat and smoke and
carnage to bring them to that action?
This was before the second explosion and before the buildings fell.
This was an act determined by them and only by them
before we learned details of scheming Al Qaida monsters
and their consummate evil.

Were they young lovers?
Were they a couple?
They jumped holding hands.
They fell clasped to each other for as long as they could.
They must have been plummeting a hundred miles an hour
as their rate of fall accelerated.
Had they been at breakfast together on that
clear, blue sky, bright sun, welcoming beautiful?
Did they hold hands while walking to work that morning?
The instant before Mohammed Atta struck,
that “September morning” was as appealing, tranquil
and inviting as one could imagine.
Was it that way for them?

The second explosion is the other image.
I was then standing on the knoll across West St.
and near the entrance to the building where the escalator
takes you up to a lobby and on to elevators that rise to the
Wall St. Journal offices.

Ancient army training instinctively had me measure the size of the fireball.
It was 20 stories tall and about the same width.
I counted the stories out of instinct.
I also counted the “flash-to-bang” time and determined that
I was between 4000 and 5000 feet from it.
I could feel the heat briefly as the shock waves rolled out from the blast.
It made the loudest sound I had heard since the ‘60s when I crawled
on my belly next to an artillery simulation pit at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

My mind surfaced the 23rd Psalm that morning as I stood on that knoll.
Looking across West Street and down Liberty Street and beyond Broadway
toward Wall St. one had a vista of two smoking buildings,
panicked people, chaotic and sporadic emergency vehicle movements,
injury and death.
Through all of this, the bright sun and cloudless sky
allowed a sharply defined shadow to angle onto the buildings in the financial district.
There are places here where the sun never reaches the pavement, I thought.
The nickname“canyons of Wall St.” entered my consciousness.
I cannot recall who coined that phrase. and running

From the metaphor of canyon and shadows the psalmist’s words leapt at me.
You are looking at the valley of the shadow of death, David.
At that moment we felt calm and not panic.
We pursued action not frozenness.
We moved decisively.
We escaped and are here to tell about it and to contemplate.

Why me?
Why those jumpers?

Ancient texts yearly ask that we reflect and personally examine that question.
Millennium old teachings say that an annual accounting is done in a spiritual realm.
Who shall live and who shall die?
These things get sealed yearly according to those traditions.

But good deeds of charity and kindness can annul the judgment.

That is also the message imparted by those ancient teachings.
Maybe that is why I recite the 23rd psalm?
Why I keep it on my personal bulletin board in my kitchen?
Maybe that is why its final sentence is phrased so profoundly with the text that we know?

~David R. Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer

We remember

Weather-wise, today will be much like it was seven years ago;
sunshine, blue skies and comfortable temperatures.
I’ll get a particular chill though when I gaze down Charles Street
at the sign for the Milner Hotel.

In my mind, today will be much like it was seven years ago
when I thought the world was coming to an end.
Although I’m still here, the memory of that day will be with me forever.
Click on the picture above for the 9/11 tributes I wrote on the 5th anniversary.
My prayers go out this morning for all that we lost;
the many people, our faith in justice and God, our blind innocence.
Never forget . . .

Nine Eleven

I remember the day vividly; there were crystal blue skies, warm and ample sunshine, comfortable temperatures, a picture perfect fall day in New England.

The date was September 11, 2001 and I was just getting into work (selling pianos at the time) when the phone rang.
It was my friend Colin, a piano technician from the store where I worked calling to tell me he’d heard on the radio that a plane had just flew into the World Trade Center in NYC.
It must have been a terrible accident we both agreed, a freakish malfunction of an old turbine perhaps, a minor incident but nevertheless a tragic loss of life of strangers neither of us would probably ever know.
At the time, it seemed safer thinking of it that way.
It was a small plane, Colin said and that made me feel better.
Fewer people meant fewer casualties in a city the size of New York.


After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that something didn’t seem quite right about the conversation. Couldn’t put my finger on it but something was wrong.
I knew it and Colin knew it, we just didn’t want to say it.

I mean, planes just don’t fly into buildings, do they?

My question was promptly answered when the phone rang 15 minutes later.
It was Colin again sounding a bit nervous.

Another plane? Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on? I asked.

He went on to tell me that both of the towers were hit and that it looked like we were at war.

War? I thought, With who?

I went outside and looked up into the sky for a sign that the world was still alright and all I saw was the endless crystal blue of the atmosphere but I noticed something else; there was an eerie stillness and silence hanging in the balance.

Word got around quickly that the US had been attacked as we began adding words to our daily lexicon: WTC, 9-11, Atta, Al Qaida, Al-Jazeera . . .

The dark truths would begin to bleed through the seemingly impenetrable fabric of our lives virtually changing all of us, forever.

The phones started ringing at the store . . . but not from customers.
The calls were from wives to husbands, sons to mothers, sisters to brothers – with one simple question; are you okay?
By noontime the phones stopped ringing and business ceased as the United States was brought to its very knees.

I can’t help but think of the same three words I thought on that horrible day: God Help Us


I still pray for all that we lost that day; the brilliant lives, our {unjustifiable} innocence and our shattered sense of {false} security.
We were too blind for far too long.

My words describing that day are still woefully inadequate but my thoughts and feelings of incomprehensibility are still so incredibly tender and raw.

I want badly to forgive but I still can’t.

God Bless all those we lost.

As Annie said, turn those headlights on . . .


Three Words

Although I don’t consider myself a devout catholic, I do attend mass most Sunday mornings. I see the hour or so spent there as a sort of a sacred in-house inventory if you will, a pensive look into my soiled soul and the now dormant week that was.

This past Sunday, a question I’ve thought about a thousand times jumped out at me from the weekly bulletin.
It’s really quite simple:
What would you do if you knew you only had 24 hours to live?
What would you say and whom would you say it to?

In the aftermath of 9/11, I firmly believe that now more than ever, tomorrow is promised to absolutely no one.
Many victims on the ill-fated flights and the upper floors of a crumbling World Trade Center had cell phones that day and made calls to the people that mattered most to them.

Are you surprised?

I didn’t think so.

I’ve yet to listen to one of the recorded phone calls but I’ve no doubt it’s ‘heartbreaking squared’.
In my heart, I also know that every single conversation ended with three words:
I love you.

The dark acceptance of the raw reality of death makes us reach out and touch the special people that matter the most to us.
Sports cars, 80ft yachts, mansions, small islands, diamonds and all the gold ingots in the world are effortlessly rendered worthless.
Kind of cool, IMHO.

If you were told tonight you wouldn’t live to see another blazing orange creamsicle sunrise, I’m thinking there would be an undeniable clarity regarding the ultimate worth of the precious gifts (people) in your life.

Why wait until you’re backed into some abysmal corner before you take some action?
I ask everyone reading this post to call someone today (or tonight) because, to be quite honest, tomorrow is already peaking around the corner.
Do you want to take that chance?
I’m only talking about three simple words.
Can you do that for me?
I knew that you could . . .



Coach Osama?


Let’s say that hypothetically you have a child in high school.

This child also plays a sport.

They come home one night from practice and hand you THIS.
(scroll to the bottom of the page for a sample of a letter written by Mitch Albom)

Said child is then instructed to visualize their team as ‘America’ and see the opposing team as Osama bin Laden.

Hypothetically, this misguided and unjustifiable inspirational tactic is tasteless and just shy of unconscionable; to use one of this nation’s greatest tragedies as a coaching tool for children truly makes one truly wonder about the future of scholastic sports and some coaching styles as well.
Is this the kind of vicious mentality you would want instilled in your child?
I guess I’m just wondering…hypothetically, that is.
And why on earth would anyone use the words of Mitch Albom for a purpose such as this? Albom is a wonderful writer and would find this scenario incredibly disturbing.

Any thoughts?


Older posts

© 2016 Smoke and Mirrors

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑