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Correspondent Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Ten days in New York
New York
The American flag flies high above ground zero

Click here for transcripts

Correspondent Special on the struggle of New Yorkers as they try to come to terms with the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Jon Sweeney reports from New York.

Ashes on ashes, dust on dust: in the days after not one but two cities in the sky fell to earth the Big Apple has become a city of shrines. The whole city is caught on a jagged edge of loss every bit as cruel as the remnant of the towers.

The city has to put the frenzy behind it, and return to normal, otherwise the killers will win. But to do that is to somehow betray the memory of the missing and the dead, and that is unbearable.

Geraldine Luparello
Geraldine Luparello hopes her husband is alive

Geraldine Luparello is a working class Italian-American grandmother, living in Queens, grieving and hoping for her husband, Tony. The cruelty is simple: to grieve is to give up hope. She has no body to mourn, and may never have. And so she is trapped, with no way out, only endlessly rerunning that terrible morning.

Tony 'was no big shot, no president, he recycled the trash' for a company on the 101st floor of the south tower. But he had a smile and a joke for everyone he met, and loved his job. He would get up at 3am every morning, so that he could be in on time at 6am.


I used to believe in an eye for an eye. But this is too big. I don't want to hate. I would rather be with my husband than hate. I don't want my grandchildren to be brought up to hate

Geraldine Luparello

He phoned her the first time, to say the other building had been hit by a bomb, then a second time to say that that it wasn't a bomb but a plane, then a third time to say that people on the other building were jumping. Then, live on TV, she saw the second plane hit his tower. Since then, nothing.

It is unbearably moving. The narratives of loss in Manhattan are too many.

Michael Richards is one of the dead from the World Trade Centre. He made sculptures in bronze, his central themes airmen falling through the sky, physical mutilation and planes as engines of death.

He was in a studio space on the 91st floor of one of the towers surrounded by his work when the planes piloted by the killers struck. His sculptures died with him.

Michael Richards sculpture
Michael Richards' work died with him

You cannot look at his work without feeling that he was somehow guided by an eerie prescience, that he somehow foresaw his death. A Jamaican-American, he was fascinated by the story of black pilots in World War Two whose gallantry were both heroic and unrewarded.

His greatest work was that of a black pilot in bronze, a figure like St Sebastian, wounded not be arrows but planes penetrating his body.

We came across the story in a strange and disturbing way. Making a film for BBC Two's Correspondent, we were looking for an Arab-American who could speak about what it was like, now, to be 'kin' of the killers in New York. Moukhtar Kocache is originally from Lebanon, and is - was - the art curator for the World Trade Centre, selecting artists who would show their work on the 91st floor.

Moukhtar Kocache
Moukhtar Kocache: Forced to defend Arab-American heritage

A few days after the attack, Kocache was on the street, looking at the 'Missing' posters when a trendy, well-dressed couple walked by. The man, who could not get through on his cellphone, cursed the Arabs. Kocache remonstrated with them, and they ripped into him, and spat in his face, and a silent crowd gathered around. Close by, a policeman watched, and did nothing.

Kocache told this story of blind hate, and then explained his own loss. He loved the building too.


On the 91st floor you were so high, you could almost see the curvature of the earth

Moukhtar Kocache

The following day he went to Union Park, to show us one of the missing posters put up for Michael, and was horrified to find that it, and many others, had been taken down. Kocache follows a thoroughly bored park keeper and finds hundreds of pictures of the missing, sodden from a day's rain, stacked higgledy-piggledy in a cardboard box.

The art curator of the World Trade Centre is reduced to this, scrabbling through a box while the park keeper says: 'if you've got a problem, you've got to ask my supervisor.'

In the last ten days New York has twisted and turned on this jagged edge of loss.

Sunday 23rd September at 1915 on BBC 2

Reporter: John Sweeney
Deputy Editor: Farah Durrani
Editor: Fiona Murch

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
John Sweeney
From ground zero a report on the pain and courage of ordinary New Yorkers in the wake of the terrorist attack
Geraldine Luparello
Remembers her last conversation with her husband
Moukhtar Kocahe
The sculptures of his friend, Michael Richards, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center
Moukhtar Kocahe
Abused for being an Arab-American

Rebuilding

Political uncertainty

Profiles

Issues

FACT FILE

IN DEPTH

FORUM

TALKING POINT
Links to more Correspondent stories are at the foot of the page.


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