5992 Eyes

On my recent trip to the One World Trade Center in New York City, my fingers were wedged into the grooves of a bronze plate etched with the name, Robert King. It was mounted on a great stone podium alongside the raised letters spelling out “Battalion 7.” These were two of the thousands of memorialized engravings honoring those who perished on 911, including Robert, a firefighter who rushed to aid the innocent victims in the twin towers.

All the names are mounted there and all the memories they inspire.

It was a hot day, the bronze plates were warm, and Sweat like tears slowly rolled down my chest as my fingers brailled the grooves of some of the other names of the 2996 people who perished. It suddenly struck me: “5992 eyes, suddenly blinded.”

Less than 5 years after the collapse of the twin towers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began construction on the One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and by 2013 the 104-floor office space and observation deck was completed, becoming the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. It now stands as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and quite a climb for King Kong.

The building, including its spire, reaches a total height of 1,776 feet, a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed – a profound “gotcha” to the terrorists.

I recall when I could still see back in the late 1970s, stepping off the elevator onto the floor of the Windows on the World, the WTC’s original restaurant and observatory. I was amazed at how small the Statue of Liberty appeared.

I’m told that on a clear day you can see the curvature of the earth from the observation deck’s vista. Standing there, you are certainly high enough and far away enough to hold Lady Liberty between your thumb and index finger, proof positive that the earth is round and that freedom reigns supreme.

Steve Gladstone, The Blind Dude

Photo by Aida Zuniga

Photo by Aida Zuniga