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Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts

01 February 2013

Ed Koch, dead at 88

The Canessa Commentary


I must have been 5 or so. It was 1979.

I was in the living room with my grandpa, Tom, and as usual, as was the case every day at 5 p.m., we had Channel 4 on for the news. It was likely Chuck Scarborough behind the mic and in front of the camera.

They broke to a story about Ed Koch, the mayor of New York.

"How come he says 'ahhhh' all the time?" I asked my grandpa.

"That's just how he talks," grandpa told me.

Grandpa wasn't the biggest fan of Koch — the mayor was a liberal Democrat, and grandpa was a Republican who loved Richard Nixon.

And yet, despite Grandpa's views of Koch, I loved the man. I was 5, and it was the beginning of a love affair with politics, one I didn't realize was happening at the time, but one I know of now that I look back at it.

There are so many reasons why Ed Koch will go down as one of the most beloved politicians in my lifetime.

Perhaps it's the notion that like me, he came from humbled beginnings in the Bronx (I from Jersey City). Perhaps it's because he told it like it was. Perhaps it was because he cared more for the little guy than he did the big banks and unions.

Perhaps it's because he could be friendly with fans — like everyone in the Democratic Party — and with his foes, like the-late John Cardinal O'Connor, with whom he never saw eye to eye, but who saved him a seat every Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Perhaps it was because every time he spoke, you knew it was coming from his heart, and not form a terribly awful prepared speech laid into a teleprompter.

Most likely, it was just because Ed Koch was seriously just like you and me.

Before he died, Koch told The New York Times he wanted to be remembered as "being a proud Jew who loved the people of the City of New York and did his best to make their lives better."

And that's precisely what he did.

He made the lives of millions of people better.

He restored pride to New York City at a time when the city was burning (Summer of 1977), had no money (Ford to City: Drop Dead), there was no law and order and people just wanted to get the hell out.

After he was mayor, New York was safer. People wanted to stay.

People wanted to come.

And regardless of what your political affiliation is or was, there's no doubt — he truly did make people's lives better.

And our world is short one great man today.

Somehow, I suspect, St. Peter and the Lord are getting an earful right about now — and they're probably close to changing their minds about a lot of things.

Rest in peace, Ed Koch.

Rest in peace.

And thank you for making me love politics like few others could.

One of the final photos taken of Koch, during a recent hospital stay.

10 August 2009

It's Time for All Americans to Truly Remember What Happened on Sept. 11, 2001

In just a month, America will pause yet again to remember the tragic day that gripped the world on Sept. 11, 2001.

Lest we forget — and sadly, there are many who have already forgotten this — on that fateful day, 2,974 lives were lost, including 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. Lest we forget, we will pause to remember the more than 200 people who decided that rather than burn to their death in fires that some estimate were in the thousands of degrees, it would be a better option to jump more than 1,000 feet to their ultimate death.

Lest we forget, we will pause to remember the more than 650 people from just one company — Cantor Fitzgerald — who lost their lives on that day. We will pause to remember the pilots, flight attendants, innocent children, business travelers, vacationers who boarded planes in Boston, Portland, Maine,  Newark, N.J.  and Washington, D.C., and never returned home to their loved ones, to their jobs, to their daycare centers, to their friends.

Lest we forget, we will pause to remember the brave men and women of Flight 93, who knew they were going to be the missile that launched either into the White House or the Capitol — and who instead decided their own fate by taking over that United Airlines airplane, bringing it down into a field in that small Pennsylvania town whose name we’ll likely never forget, Shanksville.

Lest we forget, we will pause to remember the rescue workers who have since died because of their selfless work, looking to find the remains of those who perished before them.

We are eight years removed from that awful day, and yet somehow, many Americans — including some New Yorkers — pass by the site that once held the Twin Towers as though it were any plot of land being “built upon,” and not a sacred space where all those lives were senselessly lost.

We are eight years removed from that terrible day, and yet somehow — this blows the mind — there is not a permanent memorial yet built where the World Trade Center Towers once stood.

We are eight years removed from that day of carnage, and yet somehow, the mastermind of the entire plot, Osama bin Laden, still has not been captured and brought to justice for the lives he took without just cause. Yet still, there are some who fail to remember this. There are some who have completely forgotten about bin Laden and what he did that day.

We are eight years removed from that day of terror, when more than 10,000 people were able to escape the fires, falling debris, broken glass … only to become covered with that grey dust from head to toe — that same dust that turned day into night twice as both towers crumbled into shredded pieces of steel.

We are eight years removed from that day when so many, to save their lives, fled up streets, ducked into doorways and stores, hid underneath cars and inside cars, not knowing if they’d make it out alive — how could they know whether they’d be hit with fallen steel or other debris?

Yes, we are eight years removed from Sept. 11, 2001. And while there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on American soil since that day, we are a nation filled with so many people who forget what that day felt like — for those who lost someone and even for those who didn’t, but who nonetheless lived through the day’s events. So many have forgotten about that car ride or ferry ride home that Tuesday afternoon that took what probably seemed like an eternity. So many have forgotten about that awful smell that surrounded Ground Zero, Lower Manhattan, Jersey City, Hoboken and parts of Brooklyn for months after the attack — a smell which a combination of burning metal, debris, paper, wood, other elements and yes, human flesh.

In just an instant on Sept. 11, 2001, so much changed. Many said the day was one they’d not only never forget, but it was a day they’d grow from. This writer, who was just a few miles away from the World Trade Center that day — in Downtown Jersey City, N.J. — hasn’t forgotten a single detail about that day, down the most minute details of what I was wearing that day, what I had to eat and drink, what I listened to on the radio, what I saw and smelled.

Sadly, though, eight years removed from Sept. 11, 2001, there are those who have completely forgotten about that day and what it meant to this country.

Take a look at the pictures posted around these words — and if you’re one of those people, ask yourself “how?” The pictures don’t lie — nor do the words that recall that day. It’s a day no one should ever forget.

And it’s a day, the likes of which we should never have to face again. Yet the more we forget history, the more we are likely to repeat it, as the old saying goes.

It’s time for everyone, in all walks of life, to truly remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

That time starts now.

Click here to read my reflections on the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, from 2008.

08 August 2009

Plane, Helicopter Collide Over Hudson River Near Hoboken; One Dead

A plane and helicopter have collided over the Hudson River near Hoboken, CNN is reporting. Another media outlet is reporting that at least one person has been pulled from the river by the United States Coast Guard. It is not immediately clear whether that person is alive.

The helicopter is believed to be a tour chopper. The plane is described as a small, twin-engine plane registered to a company in the Philadelphia area. The FAA says the plane likely took off from Teterboro Airport shortly before noon because a plane disappeared from its radar, according to reports.

Any eyewitness told CNN the plane and chopper were both traveling southbound over the Hudson. The plane then struck the chopper, its rotors broke off -- and both the plane and chopper plunged about 1,200 feet into the Hudson River, the eyewitness said.

A Circle Line tour boat, which was also heading southbound in the river, immediately turned around and headed toward the scene, the eyewitness told CNN.

The New York City Fire and Police departments, the Hoboken Fire and Police departments, the Hudson County Sheriff's Office, the United States Coast Guard and the Port Authority Police Department, as well as private ferry operators, are on scene conducting the rescue.

The plane and chopper were flying in what is known as the Hudson River VFR (Visual Flight Rules) Corridor. Aircraft in the VFR Corridor are not required to be in contact with any air traffic control until they approach either Newark Liberty or LaGuardia Airport airspace, but are supposed to (but are not required to) announce themselves on the frequency 123.05, according to Fox News. One aviation expert says pilots often don't announce their VFR locations.

More information as it becomes available.