August 29, 2019

The White Roses

I went to the World Trade Center again. It’s a memorial plaza now, with a structure known as The Waterfalls. Around this slate black rectangle, waters ceaselessly fall, witnessed, if that’s the word, by the names of the office workers and cleaning staff and visitors on that day who died when the towers fell. I always tear up at some point when I go to the World Trade Center. I don’t go there often.

I was taking this photo when a man, a sage-like elder, leaning on a staff that came just below his chin, asked me if I knew what the white roses meant. I imagine, I said, that they were placed there by the family.

No, he said, they were placed there by New York City, a white rose on the day of each person’s birthday. I worked at NYU in those years, and I saw all those eager, bright-eyed business majors who were destined to go to work that day in those towers. Kids who had worked so hard to get hired there and who because of that would never reach their 30th birthday.

And I thought of something else, a dark painful something that always troubles me. The reader should stop here. But when I see these names arrayed on these black slabs, I wonder if the name I’m reading was one of the jumpers.


'The White Roses'