Author: Terry

New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve

Pride, loss and second chances: L.A.’s unsheltered take stock before giving thanks

By Bill Lehe

Thursday, October 24, 2009 | 10:00 AM

At the end of a six-hour flight from Los Angeles to New York, there was only a brief moment of silence.

But when the pilot’s voice crackled and crackled again, a chorus of sighs swept the cabin; then the captain cleared his throat and began his introduction.

For the next week, in the middle of the city’s night, four of us – along with a couple of cameras – watched as thousands of people gathered to mark the start of a new year.

In one corner of the Terminal 5 at JFK, an old man was giving thanks.

He wore a faded blue suit and wore his hair in a long braid. He held a small gift bag and was flanked by two women.

His first wish, as he turned to face the camera, was simple: a new year and a new decade.

“I wish that all of us here tonight can find peace,” he said, “just as the sun sets over the ocean.”

And what was the message he was hoping to deliver?

“That we are all one,” he said. “That we are truly all one.”

On the other side of Terminal 5, a young man looked out at the crowd and watched as someone held up a bottle of champagne for him to toast New Year’s. Inside the terminal, hundreds were waiting to greet family and friends.

What would he say to them?

“I would like you to give our children a very special gift.”

Another man, a tall, thin man, stood and faced the camera, holding a bag with a bottle of wine and two plates of food. He was wearing a black suit with a black tie.

In his bag was a second New Year’s gift.

“I would like you to know, God rest your soul, that you have

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