(Apologies for the pictures – we weren’t trying to win photography awards here!)
In 2009, when we were in New York, we went to visit the Ukrainian district of Manhattan. There’s a shop, a museum, a church, and a famous restaurant that is in all the guidebooks.
However, what we didn’t know until we got there was that the pub next door to the shop – McSorley’s – is the place the New York firefighters gather on September 11, because of some story about a fireman killed that horrible day who said he’d meet everyone there.
So we dropped by for a drink, only to find all these men and women who were involved in the horror of the Twin Towers collapse there. The pub stops usual functioning that day and just stocks the top of the bar with glasses of beer.
We were the only non-US fire-fighting, military people there. Three Australians versus a pub full (literally pressed up against them!) of GIANT men in uniform. Whoops!
I have never met such friendly people, who flat out refused to let us buy a drink. We said we should leave because we didn’t belong there, but they just kept on insisting they were honoured to have us there.
It was still a bit odd, but wow, what an afternoon.
I had met my parents in New York in the middle of their North American trip, and had two weeks there on my own, and there was my Vietnam Veteran father, and boy, didn’t he win some admiration! Not like the reception Vietnam Vets get here!
The parade, with Ukrainian building in the background.
Then after the drinks, everyone went outside and had a small parade with bagpipes, to honour their dead.
It is one of those travel memories that will always stay with you.
Yes, I know this post is dated the 12th! But we’re a day ahead of the US in time zones here…