"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, December 24, 2010

To Absent Friends

My son loves Bruce Springsteen, so much so that he walks around singing Springsteen songs under his breath at school.   A Springsteen song he's grown to love recently is "Darlington County" from Born in the U.S.A.   There's a line from that song about two drifters who come down from NYC to the South looking for work, and they are talking to girls, and they brag that "Our Pas each own one of the World Trade Centers."   Back then (in 1984), no one could imagine that they would ever not be there standing at the foot of Manhattan.  

One of my favorite nights ever was in the restaurant on top of the WTC called "Windows on the World."   One of my best college friends' dads was the Rector of Trinity Parish, and, fair to say, of "independent means."   Anyway, they took me -- a freshman rube who had lucked into going to Princeton -- to the wine cellar of the restaurant, which was called "Cellar in the Sky," where we had a seven-course meal with a different wine for each course.   (The drinking age then was 18, which ironically made 18 year olds more civilized, because they could drink out in public with adults.)   A great night. 

Ever since then, I've loved Manhattan.   I lived there after college for a couple of years, and I've been back there on my honeymoon and many times on business.   I had a long jury trial there a few years ago.   Many, many great memories of New York, and looming over a lot of them were the World Trade Center towers.  

Hanging in my house are two pictures of Manhattan, one taken from the Chrysler Building, one from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge.  In the background of each are the WTC towers.

Can you love buildings?  Maybe not.  But you can love the memories you associate with a place, and in that sense I loved the World Trade Center towers.   If I were the mayor of New York, we would already be building a tower on that site that is bigger and better, and we would call it the America Towers.   If I were the President of the United States, I would go to the site and make a speech and I would tell the world that if anyone tries to knock down that tower a 20-megaton bomb will detonate over Mecca within 24 hours.  

The World Trade Center towers were completed forty years ago today.   RIP.  

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