Normally, Tuesday morning on Hold All Tickets is aimed at finding a laugh or two. Tuesday for giggles, Friday for racing. That’s been the pattern so far. But not today.
We’re celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. It took nearly ten years, but those crack U-S troops finally got him. A more courageous group of men you’ll never meet.
Others smarter than me will detail what it all means. How it affects the work of our own soldiers. Where the new threat will come from.
My offering, is what I found in a church, a long way from home.
From the outside, St Paul’s Chapel is like so many other remarkable places of worship in New York. George Washington sat inside, going back a bit.
It’s small. Graves sit behind. Some might think out of place on Wall Street, smack bang in the middle of the world’s most bustling financial district.
But look again. Walk inside, and your breath is taken away. The silence all but knocks you down. Between these walls, a story unfolds that is still too terrible to believe.
The Chapel lies on the edge of Ground Zero. It could have been crushed, as the towers came down on that dreadful day. It wasn’t.
In the hours, and days, and weeks that followed, the chapel became home to exhausted rescue workers. They were fed and watered. Hundreds of them. Given stretcher beds, in the hope they might be able to snatch an hour or two of sleep. Few could.
They drew strength from that tiny church. Enough to go back and face the horrors that Bin Laden’s cowards had created. Work that the rest of us will never truly comprehend.
Slowly, painfully, life returned to some sort of normality. It had to. But on the walls of St Paul’s, reminders.
Hundreds of photos. Men. Women. Children. Husbands. Wives. Parents. Big smiles. Cheeky grins for the camera. Families. Normal people, who loved, and were loved. Innocent victims.
Elsewhere inside, teddy bears and bracelets. Simple treasures, showing who these people really were.
There’s a cot down one end. The type the rescue blokes spent tortured hours on. Another display with tributes from firefighters all over the world. Painted banners made by artists, and schoolchildren.
Candles burn. Volunteers who maintain the memorial keep their distance. Every last exhibit needs to be honoured. So much good, from something so awful.
That’s what I thought of when I heard the news. The place that made me realise how precious life and family is. How the human spirit can overcome so much.
That little chapel outlasted the terrorist who thought he could change a way of life. That’s something to celebrate.