I don’t cry on 9/11. I cry on 9/12. I cry while watching a news report about people who had escaped the Twin Towers before they collapsed. One survivor says that as he walked down fifty flights of stairs with terrified co-workers, he was amazed to see a line of firemen loaded with equipment walking up. Up! Up to who knew what? “I’ll never forget the faces of those young men,” he says. “They all had blue eyes.”
That’s when I cry.
Of course, they all had blue eyes, you dumb fuck. They were New York City firemen. Every real New Yorker knows that New York firemen are Irish. New York cops, too. And, plenty of them died on 9/11. They were Irish kids from the street. Irish kids from the stoop. We went to St. John’s together and served Mass together. We got ascared at horror movies together and played stickball and swapped baseball cards and wrestled on the sidewalk and gave each other fat lips and black eyes. They called me “wop” and I called them “mick.” Their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers had been cops and firemen. They’d sit on the stoop and shake their Irish heads and tell me that we should have unleashed Patton. They’d take a slug from the beer they clutched in their big Irish mitts and teach me that Joe McCarthy was right. They’d warn me about pinko-commie attack that was headed our way. And, they were right! And, I wept like a sonofabitch for their kind.