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The Metropolitan Spirit


September 11: Street Post Poetry

In the days immediately following September 11, 2001, thousands of flyers and bulletins went up in public places around New York City announcing missing family members.  First the flyers were posted in desperate hope that loved ones were alive, perhaps unidentified in a hospital somewhere.

But in the weeks and months that followed the bulletins continued to go up, first in denial, then in tribute, and finally in defiance and anger: This was my brother. This was my wife. This is a picture of them. Last seen 9 a.m. World Trade Center.

One such bulletin was posted for many weeks on my block of a neighbor I never met, a handsome, smiling young man in a blue suit.  He looked like the type of fellow who bounded out of bed for some athletic training and then hopped the subway downtown to get to his desk in the morning.

As the bulletin would become torn and weathered, it would be replaced every few weeks with a fresh flyer: the same handsome smiling picture,

Missing: Derek Sword

Last Seen 9 a.m. South Tower,

World Trade Center

1 World Trade Center - Photo: The Metropolitan Spirit
1 World Trade Center   |   Photo: The Metropolitan Spirit

Finally after a couple of months, another of my neighbors who I never met, took a big fat blue permanent marker and wrote right on the flier:

To Derek Sword and Family,

We Love You.

We have not Forgotten You.

We are Praying for You. 

It wasn't much, quite simple words really, but the bulletin came down and was never put back up.

Bronze Panels at the September 11 Memorial - Photo: The Metropolitan Spirit
Bronze Panels   |   Photo: The Metropolitan Spirit

Fifteen years on we still love you. We still pray for you. We still have not forgotten you.

So this site is dedicated to the spirit and grace of the city’s response to September 11, especially to those we lost like my neighbor Derek Sword, to all those who love them, and to my other neighbors like the street post poet with the fat blue marker whose few simple words seemed to define the Metropolitan Spirit at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

— Frank Alagno

Sunset from E. 88th Street - Photo: The Metropolitan Museum
Sunset from E. 88th Street   |   Photo: The Metropolitan Spirit
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