Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Blogging’ Category

11
Sep
Bridget Esposito "Big heart"

eleven tears – in memoriam to AMEX 911 victims

Update: September 11, 2013

Can it be 13 12 years?  I cannot fathom the passing of so much time, but time does march on, doesn’t it?  I decided to re-post this entry to honor the families of the American Express victims, as well as all who suffered losses unimaginable.

Original Post:

For me, September often makes for a rough landing.

There is the heartbreaking reminder of 9/11; today being one of the most poignant reminders due to the passage of ten years.

It hardly seems possible that 10 years have passed.  The memories are so vivid it seems like it was yesterday our world was shattered.

September is also the month we see an increased number of hurricanes  here in South Florida.

And, September is my birthday month, which I won’t talk about, even though I just did.  Getting older means I have to remember a new number (I often forget how old I am).

World Headquarters of American Express – The Aftermath of 911


September 11, 2001

Eleven Tears Memorial at American Express World Headquarters

It was a Tuesday.

Monday night I stayed very late at work.  It was already September 11th (after midnight) when I left work at the American Express Service Center building in Plantation, Florida.

I was working late with Wayne, an Instructional Design colleague of  mine in Operations Training, at American Express. Wayne and I were putting the finishing touches on our Diversity Appreciation Display, which was to be situated in the huge open atrium space, at the center of the building. (Note about Diversity at American Express:  The company didn’t just “talk” about the importance of diversity, it “walked the walk” in a way that I have yet to see in any other company I’ve since worked for.  They supported diverse employee networks; WIN (Women’s Industry Network, BEN (Black Employee Network), SALT &  CHAI (Christian and Jewish employee networks), and quite a few more.)

Every year, the Diversity Team would dedicate one week to spotlight the importance of diversity at American Express.  The 2001 event, however, was going to be a scaled down version of our usual diversity celebration.

This year we were going to have four smaller events (not one big yearly event).  The four small events were to focus on different sections of the globe, and the impact that American Express had on that part of the world.

The kick-off of our celebration of the Middle East region of the globe was slated to open at 11:00 a.m., on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Because I had worked so late the night before, ensuring that everything was ready for our Middle Eastern celebration, I did not plan on getting to work until 10:00 a.m.

At about 9:00 a.m. that morning, Wayne called my home and I could tell something was very wrong, but I didn’t know what.  He asked if we were going to cancel our celebration.  I didn’t understand what he meant – what he was talking about.  Then he asked if I had television or radio on.  I didn’t.  “Turn the TV on,” he urged.  I did.

American Express World Headquarters

The first plane had just hit and I watched the aftermath.  I knew American Express had a huge office in NYC, with thousands of employees.  I wasn’t certain if our Headquarters was located in one or both of the World Trade Center buildings.  Later I realized that the American Express building was a building adjacent to the towers, and every employee was accounted for.  Sadly, that turned out not to be true.

Although the American Express building stood very near the towers, it suffered damages that looked like bite marks in the side of the building, resulting from the explosions.   The building was structurally sound and could be saved.

When the first plane hit, a few American Express employees were out in the street, just getting to work and suffered serious injuries as a result of the falling debris.  These employees nearly lost their lives, but by the grace of God, survived.

There were American Express employees in one of the towers.   

September 11, 2001 is seared in my memory.  I will never forget how I felt, where I was, or how so many of us cried together as we saw the second plane hit.

The American Express company, which I worked for nearly seven years, handled the horrendous event and aftermath with incredible class.  They have done such a good job to remember the employees who were victims.

Pictured below is the stunning tribute that stands in the lobby of the Headquarters building.  I have never seen it, but have read the countless comments describing how remarkable it is.  The architect’s name is Ken Smith.

Here are additional photos of the memorial.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rejuvesite/sets/72157603291655578/

I was not able to find pictures of all the eleven victims, instead I used a picture of their memorial stone.

I would have loved to include all the victims who died that day.  Instead, I am honoring the 11 employees who perished that day, as well as the family members they left behind.

There were more than 4,000 American Express employees working at the corporate headquarters in NYC, these 11 worked for the American Express Corporate Travel office, located on the 94th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Eleven Tears – American Express Employees:

  1. Paul Zois
  2. Sigrid Wiswe
  3. Lorretta Vero
  4. Benito Valentin
  5. Karen Renda
  6. Anne Ransom
  7. Lisa Kearney-Griffin
  8. Bridget Esposito
  9. Lucy Crifasi
  10. Gennady Boyarsky
  11. Yvonne Bonomo

The Diversity celebration that was to start on September 11, 2011, was not “celebrated.”  We kept a movie that the created, available for employees, and some photos were left up, that was about it.

It was too emotionally draining to think about a celebration.  But, we also didn’t want to discount what we’d planned -  it was hardly a celebration of a culture.

We knew the terrorists were of Middle Eastern descent, as were some of our employees.  We could not very well show any distaste for that part of the world  – that was not a reasonable thing to do, obviously.  In the end, it didn’t matter, the sadness and our mourning was not about hating a counrty of people, it was about trying to understand how a small group of human beings could / would attack us as they did.

I think every American felt like they were collectively  kicked behind the knees that day.  It’s difficult to get up from the floor, though we will and we have.

Prokopios “Paul” Zois “Sense of humor”

Sigrid Wiswe “Loved NY Harbor”

Loretta Vero “Fiercely loyal” Credit: Blatherfrombrooklyn

Benito Valentin “Osito” (Little Bear)

Karen Renda “An Angel”

Ann Ransom “The heart”

Lisa Kearney-Griffin “Boisterous & friendly”

Bridget Esposito “Big heart” credit: blatherfrombrooklyn

Lucy Crifasi “Exceptionally Nurturing”

Gennady Boyarsky “No Problem” was too big

Yvonne Bonomo – “Endless Energy”

9
Sep
Kissing Macaws

“A dream within a dream” – Edgar Allan Poe

A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Edgar Allan Poe

For analysis of the poem:

http://voices.yahoo.com/poetry-analysis-dream-within-dream-edgar-allan-11616170.html

Click the link below for the full Edgar Allan Poe message from the WOW Catcher blog.
“A dream within a dream” – Edgar Allan Poe.

21
Jul

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

As usual, I’m busier than a bee.  But, I do want to post a picture of this week’s photo challenge.  The word is “Inside.”

Hope and Honey Bee, by Andrea O'Connell

13
Jul
By Andrea O'Connell, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming!

The weekly photo challenge for this week is “Dreaming.” Read more

17
Jun

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

This week the photo challenge word is close.  I’ve chosen to use “close” as in close-up, or macro photography.  I shot this last week:

This is my cat, Beau.  I love his eyes!  He’s jet-black with white whiskers!  When I can get him to sit still or wake up, he’s a good subject:

Photo by Andrea O’Connell, 2012

17
Jun

Weekly Photo Challenge One Week Late: Friendship

I just realized I used the Macaws for another photo challenge!  Here’s the one I was going to use originally, anyway:  My niece and her friend seeing how their friendship necklace fits together:

The weekly photo challenge from two weeks ago was to post a photo that speaks about friendship.  I chose these two Macaws.  They are big buddies and have such fun together…. Such lovely birds, too.

17
Jun

I’m still here!

I know, I know…. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve popped in to blog – I even missed the last two Weekly Photo Challenges…. Horrors!  I plan to do those momentarily.

I’m having this battle with myself about taking time to blog.  I feel guilty taking the time when I have so much work to do….  I’m working from home now – doing Instructional Design consulting.  Yeap.  I took the plunge to work for myself!

I’m working on a website and two business blogs right now – it’s a huge task.  I have them all set to go as far as how they look and feel, but still developing the content, which is the major task.

I haven’t been following the Casey Anthony goings-on, but have heard that a movie, based on Jeff Ashton’s book,  is in the works.  Good for him!  I’m glad he’s doing so well.

I heard through the grapevine that Jose Baez has a book out, or has one coming out – I’m not sure which it is.  I’d venture to say few people will want to read it.  What can Jose Baez say other than “I told ya’ so!” (Which no one in their right mind believed was possible at the time.)

It still floors me.  We all thought, no way can such an inexperienced trial lawyer win that case!   Hah!  He did it.  We all wore eggs on our face after that, big time.

I’m amazed that the Casey Anthony story continues to generate news!  It’s so crazy!  I get Google-Alerts on the topic of Casey Anthony and it never fails that EVERY day, somewhere – someone is talking about something related to that trial.  It seems to be a foregone conclusion that little Miss Beautiful Life is going to have a perpetual OJ Simpson-like reputation for life.

Well, life goes on, doesn’t it? It doesn’t change much, but it goes on!

Here’s a little gift from me:

4
Jun
A Wave Crashing.  Photo by Andrea O'Connell 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

The weekly photo challenge word is was “today.”

Lately my “today’s” have been sans camera in favor of the computer and work-projects.

I shot these photos on a today that happened last month!

There’s a “today” certainty and strength in nature, especially in the sea…. it flows through every today …. the waves, so much like music…

Anyway, I love a today with ocean in it.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

25
May

weekly photo challenge: Summer

The weekly photo challenge word is “Summer”.

Holding the string, at the other end of this kite are a couple of boys and their Dad.  The kids were thrilled when the kite caught the wind and really took off.  It was a beautiful sight; and seemed the epitome of summer.

(Click to enlarge.)

Photo by Andrea O’Connell

19
May
A Butterfly Holds A Child's Hand.  Photo by Andrea O'Connell

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

The word this week is: Hands. Read more

19
May

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

I know, I know…. The “Blue” challenge was last week… suffice it to say, that blue week was a busy one for me – though not at all blue.  On the contrary, it was a lovely week because half of it I spent soaking in the sights and sounds of the blue sea.

I met this woman in blue on the beach.  She was staying in the same hotel I was in.

(I don’t know how to spell her name, but it sounds like Iah.)

She’s from Somalia and was so friendly, with a great smile even though I didn’t capture it fully in this photo, unfortunately.

Anyway, she saw me taking photographs and asked if I’d come across a key she’d lost – her hotel key.  I hadn’t but I offered to help her look for it until I saw how she was looking – picking up the seaweed, shaking it and shuffling the sand that the seaweed had been sitting on.

I’ve seen too many creatures in the seaweed to get too close.  So, I found a stick and helped.

We never found her key, but we chatted a bit.  She asked me to take a picture of her with a handful of seaweed.  I said sure (later I captured more photos of her scooping through the weeds that I was too wimpy to touch).

She asked if she could have copies of the picture and so I gave her my email address to contact me,. but she never has. Maybe she’ll see this post…

A Friend in Blue. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

Man-O-War creature sitting in the seaweed.  They about kill the human unfortunate enough to touch one.  I was stung as a kid – horrendous pain.

Man-Oh-Man-Oh-Man-O-War. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

Here she is using her hands to dig through seaweed with who-knows-what kinds of horrible creatures in it.

Somewhere In There is a Lost Hotel Key. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

And here’s the beautiful blue of the sea in its glory.
I’m blue now….. missing this beach.

So Blue and Inviting! Photo by Andrea O’Connell

4
May

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused

The word for this week’s Photo Challenge is “unfocused.”  Certainly an easy one for me as I have many photos that fall into that unsightly category. :)

I’m like a photography hoarder, I keep the even the blurry and goofy pictures!

This pretty fella, the bright Peacock, moved just as I clicked.

 

The second photo is the effect of theatrical lighting on aluminum scaffolding.  Not only is it blurry, it’s also distorted! Two features for the price of one with that photo!

30
Apr
Canon file 019

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge was to post something that says “together.”

Well, I’m a bit late with this – haven’t had my act together!

Here are two colorful Macaws who are having such fun together.  These kids are hilarious when they’re together!  They seem to love each other, but they fight like cats and dogs, too!

Here are two lovely butterflies doing what butterflies do when they’re together.

20
Apr
Clouds Chasing the Sun.  Photo by Andrea O'Connell

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

The challenge this week is to capture the sun!  I usually battle with the sun when developing images…. When there’s too much sun-glare it can wreak havoc on an image.   So, it’s nice, for a change, to have an occasion to relish the sun!

A Roseate Spoonbill sun dance:

Sun Dancing. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

Clouds chasing the sun:

Clouds Chasing the Sun. Photo by Andrea O’Connell


An orange flower drinks in the sun:

Drinking in the Sun. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

13
Apr
Art on Miami Apartment Building

Weekly Photo Challenge: Two Subjects…

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge asks us to illustrate two subjects in a photo.

This was the first photo I thought of….  I really love that this image is so unexpected!  It’s such an odd thing to see as you drive the turnpike in Miami.

I captured this through the window of a car – about three weeks ago.  I was a passenger in the car and happened to have my camera in my lap when I saw this out of nowhere!   I nearly missed it, too.  Fortunately I got the shot on the first try.

And, the sky that day was really that blue!

In a sense, there are three subjects in this photo: The artwork, the building, and the bluer-than-blue sky.

I don’t know why this whimsical piece of art is on this apartment building, which is about 15 stories high, but it’s clearly been put there purposely.  Maybe a tenant placed it there?

I don’t know if it’s even still hanging on the building.

I think it resembles the work of artist Romero Brito, the Brazilian pop-artist, who makes Miami his home.  But, he generally signs his work.

So, it’s a mystery – a whimsical and beautiful mystery!

Somewhere in Miami this colorful artwork is happily hanging on the side of an apartment building! Photo by Andrea O’Connell, 2012

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 481 other followers

%d bloggers like this: