Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Giants Ballpark Memorial 2008

'I heard the first one (plane) hit, and I saw the second plane hit,' said Tony, reliving the terrible disaster at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Visibly distressed, he was standing outside the Giants' ballpark this morning searching for the name of his friend and friend's brother on the enormous banners that list every person who died.

'It's very upsetting. I'm looking for my friend who died, Sean,' he said. 'He and his brother died in the World Trade Centre.'

A young New Yorker, Tony is visiting San Francisco and had stopped from a jog to reflect at the Giants' memorial. It didn't take long to find the names of Sean Patrick Lynch and his brother, Farrell Peter Lynch.

When you love somebody they (the terrorists) can't take that memory away. He was so funny, so funny,' he said, his voice petering out.

At the time of the attack, Tony was living in downtown New York. He remembered hearing the first plane hit.

'You don't hear that sound in New York city, so I said, "That's not right,"' he said. 'In fact, I heard the plane flying over. It was so low, I said "That's not right."

'So I walked down and all of a sudden I saw a giant fireball.' At that moment he knew America was under attack and the rest of the day was unreal.

'The whole day was like you were living outside of your body. Where are your loved ones? Where is everybody? How can we help?' he said. 'We don't do a lot right as Americans, we're bullies. But the taking of life forcibly is not the answer.'

HIs thoughts led momentarily to reflections on the the Iraq war. 'You know we hurt so many people in the war. You feel guilty.'

But then he returned to Sean and his brother. 'They were Irish guys. Sean and I went to school together.'

In a brief, final tribute to Sean, he said, 'He was a funny guy. A good dad.'

And then he continued on to the bay front to grieve in private.

Only minutes earlier I had left the vicinity of the Giants' offices where Shana Daum, Public Affairs officer, had talked to me about the memorial.

'We designed them,' she said of the banners that are strung between palm trees on the plaza by the entrance to the ballpark. They were first hung as a very visible, public tribute on the first anniversary of the tragedy in 2002.

Several Giants' fans died on 9/11 and the Giants pride themselves justifiably on their family ethos.

"We all know someone, or someone had a friend who knew someone, who died. Lots of people from the Bay Area were killed that day. A number of people who were killed on the airplanes were Giants' fans,' said Shana.

The Giants, she said, chose to honour the memories of those who died in this way because 'It was the right thing to do. It was a national tragedy that affected all of us and we believe it's something you can't forget, and that's why we continue to do it every year whether our baseball team are playing at home or not.'

The plaza borders the main street that runs along the bay front up to the tourist centre of Fisherman's Wharf and was chosen as the memorial site for that reason. As such a public place, the Giants saw it as a focal point for tourists and fans.

'We have a place where they can come, it's such a beautiful spot with the palm trees and the statue of Willie Mays,' she said.

The Giants have honoured the memories of the fans who died in various ways. On that first anniversary, their families were invited to stand on the field before the start of the baseball game, and they have been invited to other games and functions as guests.

***I found a tribute to Sean and Farrell's family, and especially to Farrell online. Click here.

***The blue banner names the crew and passengers on the four aircraft.

No comments: