Attention Must be Paid My Story

| 07 Sep 2015 | 04:33

Well, infinitely less attention for Donald Trump, please. And infinitely more about slain security guard, Idrissa Camara. Also, infinitely more about President Obama’s high praise for the way New Orleans citizenry helped one another in Hurricane Katrina, a most continuing need. And this relates to some Eastsiders’ first-time activism to protect their two buildings from government’s flawed-vision plan. Stay tuned for coverage.

But first, thoughts about some very special days which bring all backgrounds together - September 11th, and the need for more small informal neighborhood memorial gatherings like the one, thanks to Judith Cutler, which meets around 8:30 a.m. every 9/11 at a designated tree located between East End and York. One woman who may attend lost her son on 9/11 and then a few weeks later, her husband died, “perhaps of a broken heart.”

Ah, is she remembered enough, and on Grandparents Day, which is Sunday the 13th? Great grandparents, the “Greatest Generation,” may well need the most remembering, not to mention inclusion. And many Catholics in late age especially, need their accessible parish church reopened, which they hope will concern Pope Francis on his city visit this month.

And Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the 13th and 14th, couldn’t be a more welcome time for this Protestant Christian because it makes the city more of a community place, where smiles are exchanged on the streets and generations are out there walking together and in their Sabbath best. Hey, sins are even admitted and repented! The city is calmer, almost reverent, and don’t we need that. All that.

And how we need citizens bringing their often government-wrought woes to civic meetings, such as the recent community Board 8 meeting where some Upper East Siders keep trying to preserve safe passage in their 81st and East End cul de sac. Their buildings’ front and service entranceways in the river walkway project, already under construction, are at risk from the proposed long winding ramp. Less invasive and less costly options exist to connect East End Avenue to the river walkway but these carefully thought out plans were ignored in a previous meeting with the city Design Commission. And the engineer in charge of this huge two-year, mega-bucks project wouldn’t really discuss them at the recent Community Board 8 meeting. Residential, not industrial lighting for the area is also a must. So is media coverage.

And how civic involvement/neighbors helping one another, needs to be stressed, yes, as much as physical fitness. If only we were, so many intractable social problems and ills would be prevented, yes even sometimes reducing irrational anger behind the murder of innocent victims, and those gunned down protecting the public. Those protectors whose murders get too little media attention, like Idrissa Camara, the 53 year-old security guard on duty at a Varick Street federal building, when a complete stranger, a former disgruntled government employee, barged into the building, and before killing himself, shot the first person he met - Camara.

We need to hear more about this husband and father of four children. (Likely there are other close kindred who need to be noted.) Infinitely more needs to be said about this “exceptionally dedicated and thoughtful employee” who had volunteered to work overtime the night he was so tragically, mercilessly gunned down.

Thankfully, Denis Hamill’s Daily News 8/30 column “In Harm’s Way” did tell how Mr. Camara’s awful shooting death should make us realize how guards are always in danger, and also how little they are paid to protect us. The Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Macmillan’s 8/29-30 story thankfully covered the funeral where family, friends and co-workers described Mr. Camara as “a gentle man, devoted to his family and his mosque.” His cousin said he was “such a kind man, a community man and a hero.” And, how we need these qualities in a time ever more secular, individualistic, selfie-directed, not to mention, “un-gentle.”

This good man’s body in a plain wood casket will be sent back to his native Ivory Coast for burial. The security company will pay that expense but what about continued financial support for Mr. Camara’s widow and four fatherless children? And let there be at least a commemorative plaque in that place he gave his life to protect, reminding us, said his cousin, “how security guards are often the first responders in emergencies, the first line of defense in terrorist attacks” And, said the 32BJ Service Employees International Union president: “They put their lives on the line everyday, and Mr. Camara’s loss is an opportunity for all to appreciate the work that all security officers do.”

It is the work all apartment house doormen also do. And we must not forget.

Or forget to help one another, and to become, and to stay involved, civically, and wherever else it is needed. Amen.