"Angel of 9/11"

In the twisted steel of a girder hit by the first hijacked plane, people are seeing the shadowy face of an angel.

Posted in , Dec 4, 2013

"Angel of 9/11." Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP via NBCNews.com

Downtown Manhattan is like a maze and I have no sense of direction. Weekday mornings when I come up from the subway I look around, trying to get my bearings.

Then I remember to lean my head back and lift my eyes for One World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, as everybody calls it. The sight of this magnificent shining structure always surprises me, even after working downtown for months. At 1,776 feet, the tallest building in the country appears to scrape the sky with its spire.

This morning I came up from the subway and looked to the sky. All I had to do was walk toward the looming tower to the new Guideposts offices at 110 William Street. But I stood stuck to the ground for a minute, as usual, remembering 9/11. I can’t say I ever welcome being taken back to the confusion and fear and sadness of that day and the days that followed, and followed. Twelve years later I still find the events of September 11, 2001, as surprising as the new Freedom Tower itself. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to seeing it almost first thing every weekday morning.

At the office, I turned on my computer, where a list of boldfaced emails waited to be opened. Many of them alerted me to a photo that had gone viral. “Angel of 9/11,” said the captions. In the twisted steel of a girder hit by the first hijacked plane, people were seeing the shadowy face of an angel.

The steel column from the North Tower will be on view at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, scheduled to open in spring 2014. But the pictures were enough for me. That’s the face I’ll picture when I emerge from the subway tomorrow morning and look up to get my bearings. Angels will point my mind in the right direction.

Photo credit: Mary Altaffer/AP via NBCNews.com

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