When terrorists took down the Twin Towers, I was building a house in Watertown, Massachusetts. Like everyone else that day, the unspeakable horror consumed me. Being as close to New York as I was, I felt I had no choice but to be waiting when that infamous “NYC Closed” sign was turned off. I had to see it for myself.
When I got to lower Manhattan, you couldn’t get below Canal Street, which was quite a distance from the actual site, but what I witnessed that day was far more … human … than a pile of smouldering rubble. I wiped tears from my eyes non-stop as I witnessed the people of New York coming together like nothing you could imagine from just watching the news.
There were the people handing out fliers for their missing loved ones. One woman looked at me crying and said, “please … if you see my daughter tell her we haven’t forgotten her birthday.” The students from NYU dropped posterboards in Central Park at Strawberry Fields and left markers for people to write their thoughts. I looked down and saw a cartoon of a plane frowning with the caption “Boston is sorry” and the tears came again. I held hands and prayed with complete strangers in Union Square and I don’t particularly believe in prayer.
Everything I witnessed that day turned the horror of all of that death and destruction into faith in the inherent good of the American people. There was no color, there was no religion, there was no gay or straight. There was only unity and love.
And there was Donald Trump.
The only negative thing I experienced that day was Donald Trump. I was standing on West Street watching the volunteers pour in from across the country. There were police cars, fire engines and ambulances from every imaginable area of America, all there for one reason: to find and recover possible survivors. Trump, having just received a tour of the site, was walking north, away from the wreckage. The only thing he had to say to anyone was “no pictures.” So I took this picture:
Trump had obviously just witnessed unspeakable horrors. I got to witness it myself the following day when my father and I brought a carload of jeans, socks and one item most people were neglecting: saline solution. They needed it to flush the eyes of those sifting through the rubble bucket by bucket. They sent us down to the site and the things I saw and smelled will never leave my memories. I understand why Donald Trump wasn’t exactly in a good mood.
That wasn’t what angered me this morning when I looked at this picture for the first time in many years. It brought me back to that moment when I thought to myself, “why the hell does Donald Trump need two cops, a patrol car, three security goons and a woman who was apparently from the Secret Service?”
The two cops were on the sidewalk between Trump and the small gathering of people who were there with signs shouting “thank you” to the volunteers heading to the site. The two other security goons are out in front along with the one behind him and the woman, who I only assume is secret service because of her US Secret Service hat, appears to be who gave him the tour. The Corrections car was moving along slowly next to him.
As the southbound side of West Street served as a non-stop supply line of volunteers and resources, the northbound side served as a drain on those resources, because the ever-important Donald Trump probably demanded he be kept safe from the people of New York who — from what I witnessed — couldn’t have cared less that a quasi-famous real estate jerk was walking down the street.
The entire episode goes to the character of the man if you ask me. Knowing what was happening just a few blocks behind him and the massive effort underway by first responders, you’d think he could have at least said, “you know what, I have three guys. You’re way too busy to dedicate anyone to me.”
Alas, the entourage went forward, with Trump scowling and shouting “no pictures” until he thankfully disappeared from sight.
And in the end, nobody cared that he was ever there at all.