Thursday, October 11, 2007


photo by Nereo Zane

All along the route of our expedition we met great people with giving spirits. At each place we stopped we were treated with warmth and hospitality. The team would like to extend a big “thank you” to all who received us with such grace.
September 11th changed us all in one way or another. Sure, many of the folks we ran into or were hosted by were probably already predisposed to such hospitality. But I feel that when the Twin Towers came down, Americans were reminded all-the-more that they needed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
I encountered two shining examples of this spirit and they punctuated our expedition; one at the beginning and the other at the end.
Ron Dawson of Dawson’s Body Shop was recommended to me by Dockmaster Ed Larvia of the Albany Yacht Club. Ed was a great help to us throughout our expedition and his choice of Dawson was perfect. Dawson came in with some very impressive equipment and picked up the gondola on her trailer with perfect balance on the first try (we’ve done this over a dozen times and I’ve seen many operators get it after three or four attempts). I approached Ron afterwards to pay for the work and he told me he didn’t want any money from me; after September 11th he’d spent four days in New York City helping with his trucks and equipment, working alongside FDNY and NYPD personnel. I could see in his face, the reverence towards all that had happened. Dawson’s Body Shop is hereby named as a “write in” sponsor. I’ll not soon forget what I learned that day.
After all was said and done and the only thing left to do was put the gondola back into the truck, we were in a towing yard much closer to Ground Zero. In fact as I was working with some of the Staten Island Towing Service guys, one of them blew my mind with a statement I’m sure he makes quite often: “We still have a World Trade Center, it’s right here on Staten Island”. He was talking, of course, about the large amount of debris brought over and buried there on the island. This statement gave me chills and served to remind me of how very close and connected these guys were to it all. Upon seeing the gondola and understanding that the cause of the expedition was to honor the fallen heroes of 9-11, John Forster told my wife that there would be no charge. I am honored to list both Dawson’s Body Shop and Staten Island Towing Service as sponsors; my only regret is that we couldn’t have their names on the gondola.
I’ve learned a lot about people this month. And while we on the West Coast watched our televisions in horror as the World Trade Center fell, I have been constantly reminded of the bigger impact it had on those closer to it – some of whom, actually heard the towers fall. “Nolite oblivisci” – never forget.

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