September 16, 2001| STEVE LOPEZ
Kathleen Kelly of Bethlehem, Pa.
Jeffrey Stutsman, from San Diego State
Dick McCloskey, a commercial real estate appraiser from South Bend, Ind.
his daughter, Julie
his daughter, Leslie
his son, Noah McCloskey,
his son-in-law Earl,
his Katie Marie (fatality)
All of the named people in this article are agents of the conspiracy. The left-right binary is contrived in the extreme, with players on both sides recruited. The giveaway is the fact that the victim was only two months in her new out-of-town job, as are Stutsman and Kelly imported for this duty.
NEW YORK — On the fourth day, the park at Union Square in lower Manhattan became a sanctuary for those trying to move on and those who can't let go. Those who live in penthouse suites and those who sleep in the bushes.
The peaceniks came, and the saber rattlers too. Buddhists prayed on the lawn, a street preacher shook a fist at the blue September sky, a Korean priest led a hymn.
And the McCloskeys of Indiana came to light a candle for daughter and sister Katie Marie.
I had wandered the park before the McCloskeys arrived. I had lingered over posters of the missing and looked over my shoulder to see their eyes follow me under the trees. Dogs barked, children laughed, adults cried. There was a whisper of fall in the air, a spirit rising in a thousand glances that said: We'll get through this together.
Kathleen Kelly of Bethlehem, Pa., took a piece of lavender chalk and scribbled her politics on the pavement, as hundreds have done in Union Square.
"The real cause of terrorism is U.S. foreign policy," she wrote.
A man watched, disgusted, then scuffed the words with his shoes.
Another man was growing weary of the doves preaching nonintervention at the park, which has always been a place to stand on a soapbox. George Washington himself, with "peace" and "love" chalked all over his statue and flowers at his feet, looked like a hippie on a horse.
"This is a bunch of B.S.," a man named Jeffrey Stutsman told a peacenik who had spread out a Gandhi quote on the lawn.
Peace will not come out of a clash of arms, but of justice lived.
Stutsman, 29, was playing hooky from San Diego State, wandering the United States in a Volkswagen, when he learned of the attack. He gunned it for Manhattan, patriotism burning like a booster rocket on his Jetta, and came straight to Union Square.
"What about justice for those killed?" Stutsman asked Mike Healy, 20, who says he lives in the park.
"Innocent people will die if we retaliate," Healy said.
Stutsman and I stepped away for a moment and into a cloud of incense.
"These people all want peace and love," he said in frustration. "But they don't want to make any sacrifices for anything."
Stutsman went back to the front lines; I went back to the public gallery of missing persons. And suddenly, against the backdrop of so unfathomably beautiful a day, they struck me as more haunting than ever.
It was a photo of a little girl of about 2, posing with her missing father, that did it.
I had never wanted more for the terrorists to die.
I turned in the direction of the World Trade Center and saw a family approach. Just an ordinary-looking American family, the father carrying something under his arm.
I would learn that he was Dick McCloskey, a commercial real estate appraiser from South Bend, Ind. That he was with daughters Julie and Leslie, son Noah, son-in-law Earl, and that they were looking for daughter Katie Marie.
She was 24, and she had been thrilled about her recent move to New York. Two months ago, Katie began work as a computer technician for a company on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center's north tower. Her desk was on the south side of the building, and she told her family she simply could not believe that she could look out the window of her office and see the Statue of Liberty.
"The first plane had to have hit pretty much right where she was," Dick McCloskey said.
When they didn't hear from her, the family drove to New York, holding onto the slim possibility that she got out somehow. In her apartment, they found her journal. Over and over, she wrote about how happy she was with her new life.
The family walked the streets of New York together, handing out the flier on the fleeting hope that someone had seen Katie, somewhere, alive. They filed a missing person report with the police and went to all the hospitals. Dick McCloskey gave a DNA sample.
At Union Square on Saturday, as the peaceniks squared off against the saber rattlers and hymns filled the air, the McCloskeys found a vigil under a lamppost. Dick McCloskey laid down a flier, and Katie looked up at the sky with her family's love in her eyes.
Noah McCloskey set two candles on the flier as paperweights. He lit both, but the wind blew them out.
"We've basically given up hope now," Noah said. "We're going back home tomorrow."
It helped, Noah said, that so many people were so supportive in New York. It helped too that President Bush came to offer respects for the dead, thanks to rescue workers and a promise of justice.
Noah bent down and lit the candles again. Once more, they blew out.
As they were about to leave, Dick McCloskey came to me sobbing. I reached for his hand, but he put an arm around me instead, and he spoke a father's words of love and strength.
"Say good things," he said. "Say good things."
Steve Lopez can be reached at email@example.com