Thursday, March 13, 2014

How does Gov. Christie sleep at night?

As governor, Chris Christie has done a lot of truly awful things to the people of New Jersey in the past 5 years, but even more egregious than promulgating the myth of ‘failing schools’, demonizing teachers and other public employees, leaving Sandy victims sinking without a life boat, calling a Navy Seal an ‘idiot’, telling the press to ‘take a bat out’ on a 78-year old grandmother (who just happens to be the Senate Majority leader), turning his back on the poor, minorities, the middle and working classes, seniors, the LGBT community, commuters, and the homeless, surrounding himself (there are still no dots connecting him) with irresponsible, vindictive, selfish and, dare I say anti-semitic, staff who would put millions of George Washington Bridge commuters at risk for juvenile, political sport, is the report out of the New York Times and picked up by Rachel Maddow Tuesday that he actually gave away pieces of the World Trade Center as political carrots to the top 20 mayors on his  ‘must-get’ endorsements list.

Governor Christie cares so much about winning that he’s willing to trade off pieces of hallowed ground—a burial site—for political favors. It's like FDR giving away pieces of The USS Arizona.

Everyone who lives in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut metro area has a 6-degrees of separation story about 9/11. Everyone knows someone who knew someone who lost someone or saved someone. When that anniversary rolls around, millions of emotional scabs get ripped off. On any given day, the site of the two reflecting pools, edged with the names of all the victims is quiet and somber. Flowers and other mementos are left on the perfectly engraved names by friends and family who never forget and who will never fully heal. For all intents and purposes, it’s a sacred site for many who never got closure, whose loved one’s remains were never found. And every piece of wreckage should be treated as if it, in some way, is imbued with their spirit.

Ever walk past FDNY Ten House? Engine Company 10 Ladder Company 10 is right across the street from the World Trade Center site. They lost 5 members on 9/11. On the front wall of the newly re-built firehouse is this enormous bronze tribute to the fallen heroes of that day: New York's bravest.  Wonder how they feel knowing that the governor of New Jersey has treated their fallen brothers and sisters with such disrespect?
                                

Three years ago while on the campaign trail, I stopped at a firehouse in the 16th district where, unbeknownst to me, a piece of the World Trade Center had been presented a few days earlier. (I'm trying to find out whether that mayor was on Christie’s list.) I walked into the room and saw a hulking piece of twisted steel and immediately knew what it was. That’s the kind of unconscious hold those buildings had on the tens of millions of us who took them for granted every day. They were our beacon on the Turnpike, guiding us home from a long day’s journey or a long day’s commute. They were the watchtowers of the tri-state, standing guard over commuters and travelers alike. They were our Mt. Everest and K-2. They simply were… Until they weren’t.

I took this picture back in the '80s. It's been on my refrigerator for years.

And in a slow motion split second, they were replaced with smoke and ash and fire, and screaming and running, and tangled piles of twisted steel and broken glass, broken bodies and broken hearts, fighter jets chasing after ghosts, the acrid smell of jet fuel mixed with so much death… and all that fluttering paper.

And then came the eerie silence that enveloped us like a tomb. With so many airports, the sound of airplanes is like white noise to those of us living in this part of the country. When it stopped for several days afterward, the silence was deafening. And with it came the smoldering pile, the shattered lives, the numbness, the nation at war, and the thousands of brave men and women who would sacrifice their lives—and continue to do so—in a war that was started in the wrong country for the wrong reasons.

I grew up in the shadow of the World Trade Center. I watched it get built every day as I walked to St. Stephen’s School along Chestnut Street in Kearny, rising higher and higher over the New York skyline before the view of lower Manhattan was partially obscured by the garbage dumps that claimed the meadowlands.

My very first day of teaching ever was 9/11. I sat at the front door of the school signing students out all day. From where I sat, I had a clear view of rt. 78, and I watched as police, fire and rescue vehicles raced east to an unknown fate. I wonder how many of those brave men and women made it back home to hug their spouse or their children?

Governor Christie gave away pieces of our collective souls to win political favor, to win an election. How can anyone in their right mind call this leadership? How does Gov. Christie sleep at night?

Excuse me, as Rachel Maddow suggested, I have to go take a shower.

Note: I did an online search to find the list of mayors, and emailed Matt Flegenheimer, one of the writers of the NYT story, to see if he has a copy. As of this posting I have not heard back.