If left to my mind and its addiction to memories, I’d write about 9/11 till the cows come home. A manuscript sits in a drawer in my desk covering the impact of that day–just on my life alone, not even the overall effect on us as a nation. I’ve done a lot of blogging in the past 10 years and that is where I’ve felt compelled to connect my 9/11 experiences with a universal message for whomever might read my posts whenever a 9/11 anniversary approaches. Afterwards, I often feel bad for bringing it up again because so many have moved on from that day, but I personally know many who didn’t… including, apparently, me.
Something triggered me this past week, so here I am again. This time, though, I hope to find higher ground than I usually do. This time, I hope to finally close the book on this chapter of my life where my mind desperately needs to rehash and respond to 9/11’s myriad triggers. You see, THIS YEAR, THE COWS HAVE FINALLY COME HOME.
20th Anniversary of 9/11/2001
This year is the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States that ended in destruction and devastation in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thousands perished on 9/11/2001, and over 100,000 more have been struggling with mental and/or physical health issues since then. As of this writing, nearly a thousand responders to Ground Zero have died since then due to their health challenges. This is something that will never go away. Memories of them all will never go away. But if ever there were a time to really try to spin something positive out of the tapestry of tragedy that is 9/11, it is now.
Enter…. the Cows.
I told myself I wouldn’t write anymore on the topic of 9/11. I told myself that I needed to break free of this narrative that keeps arising when triggered. Well, the cows have come home… literally.
Back in the Summer of 2000, I was in lower Manhattan with my fiancé, taking in the local attractions. We stayed at the Marriott World Trade Center hotel, where from our room we could see the World Trade Center towers to the right and left of us and the famous gold-sphere water fountain sculpture below us in the center of the World Trade Center Plaza.
I’d never stayed at the Marriott WTC before. It was quite impressive—the location, outstanding. At night, we dined at Windows on the World, the fancy restaurant on the 106th floor of the North World Trade Center Tower. With its wondrous views of the city, it made quite the impression on me, which clearly was my fiancé’s intention. We were embarking on a new life together and starting off with high hopes… the world was indeed our oyster and what better way to enjoy it all than to be sitting on what felt like the top of the world.
One of the most intriguing parts of this little getaway was wandering around Manhattan and coming upon random, full-sized, painted fiberglass cows. There were patriotic cows, modernistic cows, clever cows, odd cows–500 fiberglass cows in total all across New York City. What started our search were a pair or cows that graced the World Trade Center Plaza. There they stood side by side, their bodies depicted as each of the WTC Towers. Their artist aptly named them “Twin Cowers”… they were fun, they were funny, they were a magnet to my heart, and thankfully my fiancé took a photo to capture a memory of them for me.
For better detail, here is a photo of the “Twin Cowers” I swiped off the internet:
Here are additional personal photos of the cows we met that day: a stars and stripes cow, a Statue of Liberty cow, a Supreme Court cow with pink lipstick, and a beautiful palm-tree laced oceanfront cow.
Here Come the Cows
The New York Times shared an article this week entitled “Cow Parade Returns to N.Y.C., but Please Don’t Steal Them This Time.” Apparently, sometime after I had seen these cows in New York City, some folks decided it would be fun to steal them, to graffiti them, to cut off their ears, etc. I really didn’t know that till now. In the long run, all ended well because the cows were auctioned off with proceeds going to various charities, so that took the sting out of some of the wrongdoing.
So, here it is another 21 years down the road and it appears there are 78 fiberglass artsy cows being placed throughout the five boroughs of New York City: namely, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. There was a great desire to do this type of sprawling art exhibit again but hesitancy because of the vandalizing that occurred the first time around. So, this time the cows are fewer overall, are slightly smaller in stature than the original cows of 2000 and are being surveilled by security guards and security cameras… all top-notch treatment for what I hope will be a herd of cows spreading joy to people in and around New York City on and around the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.
Truth be told, it’s always hard for me to regard 9/11 anniversaries as anything other than sad and somber. Especially because after we’d had such a wonderful time enjoying Windows on the World, the Twin Towers and the “Twin Cowers,” the very next year my fiancé ended up working as a first responder at Ground Zero, walking through the streets of a place that no longer resembled the streets we walked together a year earlier. The towers were gone. The Marriott World Trade Center hotel was destroyed. And the gold sphere in the World Trade Center plaza was mangled and melted.
He continued working at Ground Zero for four more months. Six years ago, he succumbed to the many mental and physical health issues he acquired as a result of his time there. He was only 58 years old when he passed away.
The 9/11 anniversaries still affect a lot of people clear across this country of ours; workers and volunteers came from every corner of the U.S., united as one to help in any way they could. Many, like me, still get triggered. But the cows coming home to New York City have lifted my spirits quite a lot. They give me hope. And I don’t think the timing could have been any better.
We need hope in this country.
We need unity, like a post-9/11 kind of unity.
We need reminders, like whimsical cows wandering through the streets of our cities, to get us out of our heads and get us to lighten the heck up, to laugh, to smile, to share moments together that bind us.
We’re all in this brief human experiment together… we are, in essence, nothing more than an enormous, global herd of humans. And we do better when we stick together as ONE—the patriotic ones, the modernistic ones, the clever ones, and yes, even the odd ones.
The cows have come home. Maybe it’s time we humans come home too.
God bless the fallen and the still suffering; God bless us ALL,
Links related to this post:
A collection of Stats regarding physical and mental health challenges post 9/11:
“Statistics from 9/11 and 15 Years Later” by Never Forget Project
A memorial park east of NYC on Long Island honoring fallen responders POST 9/11:
9/11 Responders Remembered Park
Link to the Feal Good Foundation, which created the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park east of NYC on Long Island and who supports those who still suffer from post-9/11 mental and/or physical challenges; please consider making a donation to this worthy cause:
The Feal Good Foundation
“Windows on the World Restaurant” on Wikipedia:
Facts about Windows on the World restaurant
“Marriott World Trade Center” on Wikipedia:
Facts about the Marriott World Trade Center hotel
The recent article about Cow Parade 2021:
“Cow Parade Returns to N.Y.C., but Please Don’t Steal Them This Time”
A video collection of the cows of Cow Parade 2000 as witnessed by Douglas Anderson:
Cow Parade – New York City 2000 (Full Version)
A video collection of the cows of Cow Parade 2000 as posted by rk845man:
Cows NYC 2000 part 2