2011 US Open: A Weekend of Commemoration Leading into Monday's Finals
At the close of the day commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, what more could be said that had not been said? We had remembered. We had grieved with those who still grieved. We had listened raptly to those who, unable to speak about what they witnessed, finally were able to give utterance to what they experienced: i.e. the father who brought in cupped hands the bone fragments of his son to be identified and documented at a nearby hospital receiving and categorizing victims' body parts. And we had been uplifted by the stories of those who never should have made it out of the twin towers alive, but were saved by average citizens through their energy, faith and superhuman will which sometimes rises at a time of crisis.
Those internationals visiting from other countries felt and empathized with us during the days leading up to the commemoration. Rafa Nadal made special mention of his heart going out to the families who lost loved ones. Who could not be stirred by innocence lost? Our humanity had been intensified; our shared human experience electrified. We had all lost, for in the end, regardless of politics, culture wars, ethnic clashes, no one is entirely alone in life or in death. For me that was why it was appropriate to say, "Let the games continue on the day of commemoration." For sports embodies, like no other activity, the gambit of life and death.
New Yorkers most acutely identified with the commemorative services. To its credit, the USTA at the 2011 US Open paid tribute the entire weekend. It began its recognition of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, September 10th with Cindi Lauper performing "The Star Spangled Banner." During the break between the men's semifinal matches, was a film of New Yorkers' reminiscences of 9/11. Some who shared about their experiences were famous, i.e. Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Pete Hamill. Others, members of NYPD, NYFD, were not celebrity recognizable. Nevertheless, all spoke eloquently about what it was like to be a New Yorker: how the city stood together unified; the resilience, the cooperation, the generosity of New Yorkers uplifted and encouraged. At the conclusion of the film, the rapidly cutting shots of Ground Zero, from the memorial pools, "Reflecting Absence," to the rising Freedom Tower interspersed with the faces of smiling firefighters, policemen and others rose in a crescendo with the music flowing toward recovery and regeneration.Continued on the next page