Thursday, September 11, 2008

On My Mind: 9-11 Seven Years Later

Coming home tonight, this is the view I saw.A nice crowd--among them quite a number of photographers with tripods--was milling about in the pedestrian mall outside the Rector Street 1-line stop, admiring the lights, which for me, have been a yearly treat since

It's hard for me to believe it's been seven years since the towers came down, just as it's hard for me to believe it's been five years since I moved here. On my first trip to New York in 1994, I remember being captivated by the beauty of the those buildings. I still look at pictures of the twin towers from that trip and can't believe I was lucky enough to have seen them with my own eyes. What's so very moving about these memorial lights is that, in a way, they're just as majestic and imposing as the Twin Towers were.

In that majesty, even someone like me, who wasn't in NYC on September 11, 2001 to observe the streets and the business suits coated in ashes herself, can understand what an grand act of destruction occurred that day. Those who attacked us must have felt the same sense of majesty I had felt, a sense of majesty that perhaps extended to New York City at large, and at the same time they were moved by it's beauty, they wanted to destroy it, like a sad miserable outcast child seeks to destroy some other kid's shiny new toy.

I think about City Guy, who lived here, within blocks of the Twin Towers, and could not go home for weeks afterward because the fall of the Towers had knocked out the electricity in the area and the air was so filled with particulate matter that the government was afraid for people's health.

Then, after they let residents return to the area, people like City Guy lived for years amidst health warnings and the financial devastation of the Financial District. Five years ago, businesses left standing after the attack were closing, people were moving, and at night, the streets were empty. Those who stayed behind were living in a ghost town.

But the amazing thing is people like City Guy loved this city so much they hung on. People like City Guy stuck around and rebuilt the area and now, it's thriving again. No one could have predicted FiDi would become a place where so many young couples would think to raise their families. Today, there are strollers and toddlers everywhere. Schools have had to start waiting lists.

Today, I guess it finally dawned on me why it would be hard for City Guy to say good-bye to this city. Whenever I talk about how much I hate New York or miss LA, City Guy is thinking about how much he loves this city, how much he's been through with this City. I really get that now.

People eventually came back. And others, like me, moved to New York City, even when people back home asked "Aren't you worried about another terrorist attack?" because this is where you live out your dreams.

This City never let fear get the best of it, and when I see the rest of the country--people living in States and cities that have never even been to New York--use 9-11 as an excuse for their fearmongering and war cries, I get very sad. More killing, more death is not in the spirit of 9-11. And certainly not in the spirit of the heroic firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who perished that day. They were New Yorkers, and they were fearless, and I find great inspiration and hope in knowing that.

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