Monday, September 11, 2006


Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you got the news of 9/11? I was on the red line, on my way to work.

It was a crisp, clear morning, a perfect fall day. At least it looked like one. My train was pulling into Fullerton when cell phones started ringing all around me. The first plane had hit the World Trade Center, and people who already at their offices were calling friends and family who were in transit to tell them the news. A minute later the train went into the subway. Some people sat in stunned silence. Others were discussing the horrible news with seatmates.

I had no further news until I got to my office about 25 minutes later. A TV was on in the conference room. The second plane had hit the World Trade Center. The news was fragmented and confused. We were sent home later in the morning. At an hour when streets in the Loop would normally be full of pedestrians and cars, the place was eerily silent.

My brother's sister-in-law was a United flight attendant who was in the air that day. No one knew until the next day whether she was dead or alive.

A few days later, when things became clearer, I felt grateful that no one I knew had died in the attacks, but felt sadness for all those people who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A number of my friends lost friends and co-workers that day.

I visited a friend in New York two months later. The place had changed. Much of the brash attitude I'd always associated with Manhattan was gone, replaced by a combination of friendliness and vulnerability. I walked past a firehouse in Harlem one morning. The front of the building was plastered with Thank you cards and pictures, and pots of flowers had been placed in front. It didn't feel like the same New York I'd known before.

Somehow I hoped that a sense of unity would come out of this tragedy instead of the cultural fragmentation we've experienced in the last five years. Is American culture capable of unity and healing?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ramirez family wake/funeral

Thanks to Toni for this information.

Ramirez Children Wake and Funerals
Ramirez Family

Visitation and Funeral Services

Visitation: Tuesday, Sept. 12. 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Weinstein Funeral Home, 1300 W. Devon

Funeral: Wednesday, Sept. 13. 10:00 am
St. Jerome’s, 1704 W. Lunt St.

Burial: Maryhill Cemetery
8600 Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL

The Ramirez Family Fund
At any La Salle Bank

Administered by: Howard Area Community Center

Donations may also be left at the
7648 N. Paulina St.
All Checks to be made out to: Ramirez Family Fund

Please visit Toni's blog for more information on Jay Johnson and his pattern of slumlord behavior.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

a preventable tragedy

The death of the Ramirez children in Saturday's fire is a heartbreaking tragedy. I wish the family could have asked for and gotten help to keep their electricity turned on. I wish that those children could be at school today, living normal lives. But wishes won't bring them back.

I wonder if we'll ever know the answers to a few key questions. Exactly how did the fire start? Why were there no smoke detectors? Given Jay Johnson's track record in the neighborhood, and his consistent pattern of problem buildings, code violations, and broken promises, I have to wonder.

Sun-Times article 9/5/06

Tribune article 9/5/06

Donations of food, household goods or money to the Ramirez Family Fund can be made in person at the Howard Area Community Center, 7648 N. Paulina St.

The family has also established a fund with Chase Bank in the name of Yadira I. Ramirez.