March 15, 2002
This is the badge my mom, a major in The Salvation Army, was given when she got the VIP-ish tour of Ground Zero the other day. (I suppose it's a little odd that she's smiling for this particular badge photo, but I suppose that's just habit.) She's home from England for a week where she's been working since last summer. For six years, she was the supervisor for many of the Salvation Army employees who are now overseeing the support system for volunteers (she was in NYC during the WTC carbombing), plus she was "visiting from Salvation Army International Headquarters". It also seems like the people working there don't mind visitors so much; they understand that people want to pay respect and bear witness, and also the workers want to keep the message out that amazing work is still going on at the site.
And the work is amazing. She told us about the "Taj" (as in Mahal), the enormous tent that is the main meal center for the workers. It's pretty cool how the meals are supplied, actually: because they're trying to support the economy of the area, they pay the local restaurants to make their usual specialty (Chinese, Indian, Sushi, etc) and then volunteers go around and bring the food to the central areas. It's cool how the support structure is working on several fronts like that, and providing the site workers with some variety besides. Also there are the "hydration stations" that offer warmth and soup and beverages. (I hadn't thought about how cold it must be for people who are out there all the time.)
One thing she mentioned that when the project is finally over, there's probably going to be a secondary sense of loss by the people who have been working at Ground Zero (which now physically resembles one of those giant construction pits). There's a solid sense of community and camaraderie there, a justified sense of important, if unspeakably tragic, work being done.
Link of the Moment
Buggy as heck yet still very intriguing, thesquarerootof-1.com has some cool virtual toys. (For some reason I had better luck clicking on the "I have shockwave but no sound" button; I still got sound, but it didn't crash then.)