Tuesday, September 11, 2018




(Tuesday September 11, 2018 The Battery, NYC) It is nearly midnight and the highly conspicuous NYPD presence in this area earlier today has returned to normal levels.  The crowds who traveled for the 17th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks just blocks away this morning to honor and memorialize their dead have returned to their homes perhaps a bit more comforted by the day’s rituals – maybe not. This sector of Manhattan has resumed its normal routine.  The yachts moored in the marina bob in the slight chop; the waft of music and laughter are carried on the slight breeze from the nearby PJ O’Rourke’s and somewhere in the distance a discordant choir of sirens wail.  But this is the very edge of Our Big Island and as such not on the “beaten path”; yet it is this neighborhood that will forever house the Sacred Ground upon which once Our noble Twin Towers stood as bold exclamation points for all the world to see.

This morning broke with a low overcast and a high fogbank that obscured the top of the Freedom Tower.  Her spire pierced the fog as the happenings 1,776 feet below on the street pierced the hearts of all who gathered for what have become annual rites; rituals such a day merit.

Born out of the NYC optimism of the late 1960’s, the design, engineering, and construction of the World Trade Center was as audacious as it was visionary.  Their story has been told many times in many forms but no one critic or naysayer could ever deny their raw beauty.  Their deaths came as the result of a diabolical evil, of an ultra-strident orthodoxy - a brand of radical Islam that was unimaginable up to September 10, 2001. New Yorkers and all Americans lost their innocence on the bright Tuesday morning 17 years ago; we learned our vast ocean spans no longer protected our homeland from virulent terrorism.  In retrospect it is painful to see just how na├»ve, how vulnerable we all were.  Our sprawling federal government’s intelligence apparatus failed us, failed us in a most negligent way.


It takes four hours to read the names of those murdered at the WTC.  The names are read by victim’s family members in a commemoration punctuated by moments of silence and the toll of a bell.  These moments represent the exact moments that each of the Twin Towers were struck by the hijacked planes and the moments each tower fell in a roiling cloud of hell. There are also moments of silence at the exact times hijacked jets hit the Pentagon and one that crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Before the recitation of the names of the deceased commenced, the high fog descended and hung over the Hallowed Ground and the aggrieved like a funeral shroud. Many of the families attending the service this morning carried enlarged photographs of the one they lost.  While those faces are frozen in time the surviving family members show the signs of time’s passage; in some faces the years of grief and pain are evident.  For all survivors that anguish will never evaporate; it is a heavy burden they will bear forever. 

Among those present it is perhaps saddest to see those who were infants or young children on September 11, 2001.  Now grown into their teen years and older they mourn a mom or dad they have scant, if any real recollections of.  Some of them bear striking resemblance to the person whose photo they carry.  Several of the women who perished that day were pregnant and their unborn children are also recognized.  Yet from the abomination of that day Lower Manhattan especially the World Trade Center site has risen from the ashes.

The twin pools of the Reflecting Absence  memorial in what were the foundations of the majestic towers, there are carved out what the architect calls “voids”—a pair of black granite craters, each 192 x 192 feet square and set 30 feet down into the footprints of the Twin Towers ⃰. Each crater boundary walls are etched with the names of all those who died in the attacks. The voids are the focal points of what is known as the Memorial Glade. The Glade is as much sacred ground as is any American battlefield. The entirety of the 8.6 acres represent raw emotions while being a staid yet elegant memorial, understated, respectful and fitting with the mood this landmark warrants. 


The ceremonies and rituals practiced on this day are as much memorializing the deceased as it is about keeping our memories alive.  There is an entire generation growing up in the post 9/11 era.  For many the events of that day may be cursorily taught in school along with other events in recent American history.  It falls to members of our Community, those who experienced that day and the aftermath personally to tell the tales.  It will be only by our firsthand accounts that the significance of September 11, 2001 will remain relevant and recognized for the profundity that resonates here in Our City, the entire NYC Metropolitan Area and the United States at large.


They must have given last call at PJ’s.  Three young men with neckties undone and suits rumpled walk south talking at the annoyingly loud volume the intoxicated often do.  Their presence and revelry beg the questions about where they were on 9/11; do they even know the significance of the Ground just a few blocks away?  Who knows.  The Cynyx among us (certainly this Cynyc) can answer these questions – those young men are likely too young to fully understand, to recognize the profundity of the ceremonies concluded hours ago in this neighborhood.  Perhaps they viewed the highly visible Police presence and the metal barriers that cordoned off access to The Glade as an annoyance, an inconvenience to be tolerated on their way to work and to the tavern afterward.  Such is life.

Thousands of innocents got up and went to work in the WTC on this day 17 years ago never to return home to their families.  For 343 MOS of the FDNY, 37 MOS PAPD, 23 MOS NYPD the Twin Towers were literally their “Last Call”, they answered the calls to respond, went about their business escorting, carrying or even dragging an unknown many to safety.  They truly personified The Ultimate Sacrifice, a brand of dedication and devotion that often separates those with a calling for public service from everyone else. This is not to value some lives more than others; not at all. It stands as fact that as thousands descended via the stairways, many dazed, confused, and injured hundreds of First Responders determinedly made their way upstairs. There were also unknown accounts of bravery and sacrifice among the civilians who found themselves in a living hell. All involved found themselves choked between circumstance and happenstance, a nightmare scenario where the few reacted to help save the many. If not for the efforts of all, God only knows what the mortality rate would have been. 

*****     *****     *****

The breeze has picked up a bit and the clacking sounds of the mooring lines affixed to the yacht piers have gotten more noticeable.  Maybe it’s high tide.  There is a hurricane brewing off the Carolina coasts, maybe that is already exerting itself out in the Atlantic.  The dark harbor is busy tonight; tugboats maneuvering barges, oilers off the coast of Staten Island can be seen from a certain angle.  Looking north the glittering jewelry that are the spans of the George Washington Bridge are visible if one knows exactly where to look. 

Everyone who came down to the 9/11 Memorial and observed the remembrance came looking for something.  Some, if they knew exactly how to look, not where to look but how to look may have found that which they sought.  There can be comfort in the rites, the rituals can serve as commemorative railway tracks keeping the seekers on a strictly defined path.  That path is towards tomorrow and all the tomorrows to follow; their suffocating sorrow may be a bit diminished by having spent the morning on that Sacred Ground.  As this day is about to blend in to the next we say a final prayer.  We pray for the dead and the dying, for each other and ourselves. 

Bless All…


Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2018 © All Rights Reserved
Copyright Brooding Cynyc 2018 © All Rights Reserved



Thursday, July 12, 2018




(Thursday July 12, 2018 Central Park, NYC) For anyone On The Job 32 years ago, this day is forever seared in our memories.  Certain events hold greater significance in our  individual and institutional memories than others for no reason beyond the shock value, the sheer murderous reckless audacity that defines it. The commemoration of one such heinous crime is marked on this day.


The trauma surgeons working in Bellevue Hospital 32 years ago on this day were all well-seasoned, intimately familiar with the human wreckage and carnage hustled into their Emergency Room on a ceaseless basis.  They were experienced in their particular art and science of working aggressively on severely injured, wounded bodies in their efforts to stave off death. Their bloodied patients came from motor vehicle accidents, construction site injuries, all and any manor of chance in our City including violence; these surgeons knew how to handle stab and gunshot wounds as well, and likely better than, any other trauma teams in the country.  They worked with a tunnel-visioned focus fully engaged in the wrecked body that laid before them be that body Black or White, Cop or criminal.  Thirty-two years ago today they received a mortally wounded 29-year-old NYPD Officer who’d been shot at “point blank” range three times by a 15 year old robbery suspect in Central Park.

Officer McDonald had immediately been transported to Metropolitan Hospital and quickly the doctors there realized if McDonald was to have a chance at survival he needed to be downtown in Bellevue, at the time the premier trauma center in the City. He sustained grave injuries from the three bullets that struck him; the first bullet hit him in the head, above his eye; the second hit his throat and caused him to have a speaking disability; and the third shattered his spine, paralyzing him from the neck down and leaving him quadriplegic and in need of a ventilator. Yes, the Bellevue team saved the life of the third generation NYPD Officer and throughout the years since until his death in 2017 he dedicated his energies as a living example of forgiveness and grace, of inherent spiritual strength, and as a staunch advocate for these very same characteristics.  Despite all he’d endured and what he physically lived with on a daily basis, Steven McDonald remained optimistic and persistent. 


It was a relatively not unpleasant day for a NYC July, it was just another Saturday for everyone.  Working on an “Anti-Crime Unit” detail, PO McDonald and his partner, Sgt. Peter King, approached three young Black teens because they fit the basic descriptions of suspects in a rash of Central Park muggings, robberies, and bike thefts.  In plain cloths with his NYPD shield pinned to his belt and a department radio in his hand he asked one of the three, Shavod “Buddha” Jones, to allow him to see what was in the sock Jones was holding in his left hand.  In a nanosecond Jones pulled a gun from the sock and shot McDonald three times.  Before the gunshot echoes had faded McDonald was in a fight for his life and within an hour the three young assailants were in custody.  McDonald’s life hung in the balance as did the fate of Jones and his accomplices.  Jones, as the shooter, had the most to lose.  Though a 15-year-old juvenile he would be charged with Capital Murder of a Police Officer.  As his fate would play out he was sentenced to 10 years for attempted murder serving just a little over eight and a half years before being paroled in 1995.  Within four days of his release he was killed in a motorcycle accident in The Bronx. Yes, to this day MOS working and retired still view his death as divine retribution, as cosmic justice, Karma.  Yet McDonald never saw it that way and it is here, embedded in the Soul within his paralyzed body that his truest Courage and Grace is most evident.  McDonald forgave Jones and had even corresponded with him and his family for a brief time.


It is likely that each of us at some time or another, a random idle moment, a dark interlude on a subway that has for some reason stopped between stations, had reflective thoughts about not only the nature of our Jobs, but the primal very tangible realities of the life and death consequences that accompany each of us to work every day.  Perhaps in these idle moments we’ve allowed our thoughts to run to the freely speculative, to engage in the deeply personal exercise of what we are capable of and not capable of.  Steven McDonald’s life has been the impetus for shifting more than a handful of minds into that introspective mode.  Could I forgive the villain that confined me to a wheelchair for life?  Would I be able to carry on in the face of immeasurable adversity?  Could my relationship, if any pre-existed, with God remain intact after being dealt such a monumental assault of mind and Spirit, of Body and Soul?  We likely don’t share these wanderings with others and, if we do, we often will distance our inner truths to the more generic, removed hypotheticals so as not to reveal something about ourselves. 

Steven McDonald became a global advocate for forgiveness and reconciliation.  From appearances at a roll call in Brooklyn North to Norther Ireland he traveled spreading his message.  From South Africa to the South Bronx he met with local, national and international figures, prominent leaders from the Pope John Paul II to Nelson Mandela as well as Catholic Bishops and Cardinals and clerics of all orientation the world over.  He became a truly global advocate for forgiveness and peace. 


It was a bit warmer at this small grass covered ridge in Central Park than it was 32 years ago today but, aside from the weather not much in the Park has changed.  What has changed has been City-wide, a decades long concerted effort to recapture Our City from the depths of crime and violence, of such a poor quality of life that life long residents and businesses fled for greener suburban pastures for years.  Our City in July 2018 opposed to 1986 in many fundamental ways is so vastly different that the younger generations of NYPD MOS hardly believe the tales they are told.

The gathering here was small, mostly family, friends, colleagues, and of course the useless politicos who just could not resist the photo op.  The churning of the City could be heard; some birds chirped in nearby trees, pigeons strutted around, and the omnipresent wail of sirens drifted through the warm air.  It was a bit eerie standing at this site on this day filled with the significance of this small plot of ground in our sprawling City.  As Cardinal Dolan was finishing his Invocation two squirrels could be seen just beyond the grass line above the stone bearing the plaque. They both sat momentarily motionless perhaps somewhat disoriented by a group of people who did not move; the cadence of our prayers may have soothed them.

The ceremony was brief, it felt more a formality than sacred devotion.  It may be the final piece of our City to be dedicated to one of our own who led a life of goodness and peaceful resolve after being wounded so grievously by a young person he forgave.  Steven taught all many lessons.  He converted some of the most cynical and jaded among us to at least believe that Faith was possible, that so much of our lives is a matter of choice not circumstance.  We will forever honor his legacy and remember his courage and message of forgiveness.

Rest in peace, Steven.  We are all confident that you are resting easy in the Light and Warmth of the Lord.    

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2018 © All Rights Reserved
Copyright Brooding Cynyc 2018 © All Rights Reserved