Friday, September 9, 2011

Cleveland construction workers remember 9/11

Workers at the Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center hold "moment of silence" commemoration

Driving into downtown Cleveland on Friday morning September 9, one couldn’t help but notice the light fog gripping the buildings around the site of the new Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center. Just above, a low hanging cloud layer was thick enough to block the morning sun. 

Heading for the Moment of Silence commemoration at the construction site, I was already thinking back to the morning of 9/11/01. I couldn’t help but think of the live video coming out of New York as the cloud of debris rained down on that city, covering it with a nasty white coating…almost the same color as today’s fog.

The entire 200-man crew laboring on Cleveland’s Medical Mart project planned to stop working for a two-minute tribute this morning at 8:45 a.m.  Three blasts on an air-horn got everyone’s attention, and work completely ceased.

Machines were turned off. Men and women gathered together in silence. Some unfurled small American flags.  This was the Moment of Silence to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks and to remember those involved as well as those who continue to sacrifice for our freedom.

Just as the sounds of the air-horn began to fade, an airplane could be heard flying directly overhead. No one could see it, but everyone was aware of its presence. 

No sooner had the airplane flown by, but then a police or fire siren could be heard reverberating off the surrounding buildings. 

Any other day or time, most likely no one would have given a second thought to that plane or the sound of the siren. Today though, you could see the look in many of the workers’ faces, that the symbolism wasn’t missed.

Francesca Chaffee-Boylan, a local 310 laborer in charge of dust control, seemed to be moved by the event. On 9/11/01 she was actually working at the FBI Building in Cleveland and remembers the building being evacuated. “I know we’ve made strides against terrorism, but it’s a shame this is the norm” she said. With family members serving in Afghanistan and in the Pacific, she’s always aware of the dangers facing our military and safety forces.

As the air-horn sounded its second series of blasts, workers began to head back to work. At that point a machine operator yelled out for everyone to hear, “God bless those lost and those left behind.”

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