Saturday, September 11, 2010


Living in New York City has proven to be an incredible experience. Everything is so different from what we know and feel familiar with. Life is more fast-paced, diversity is all around, and the opportunity to grow is everywhere.

One such opportunity presented itself to us today on the 9th anniversary of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center right here in the city. Megan and I, for the first time since moving here, took time just to walk around Ground Zero, remember, and reflect on that tragic event. Being there in person makes all of it seem very real; not just a picture on a TV screen, but something that directly impacted the lives of so many who cased the grounds along side us tonight.

The vastness of the site is staggering. In the dark, it is a massive, gaping void that punctures the New York skyline. A black hole among a cluster of stars. There is something so unsettling about it, so out of place, like the feeling of a phantom limb. It's a space you know that should be filled, but refuses to be covered up. It is a deafening silence that drowns out the passing cars and the subway trains; the tired feet and the nervous whispers; the mournful trumpet call and the muffled sobs of those nearby.

But after reflecting on the pain of the place, we also marveled at the miracle of the human spirit and its ability to cope, to move on. The area now seems just as busy as any other in the city. People learn to cope. We heal, somehow, and make due with what life has given us. The fear subsides, and although it still lingers—especially in the moments when we confront it—we make the choice to keep living our lives anyway. It's incredible, really, when you take the time to think about it.

I use "we" as though I was there when it happened. I was far away, safe and sound, watching events unfold on a television set from the comfort of a high school classroom. I didn't understand the full import of what was happening at the time. And admittedly, I still don't, and don't think I ever will. But tonight, standing in the dark near ground zero, I think I caught a glimmer, the smallest sliver, of what 9/11 truly cost, and what it means today.

So here are my thoughts. Let's mourn. Let's remember what happened, remember the pain and the suffering of a nation stricken with grief. Remember the fear we all felt after the towers fell. And after all of that, let's celebrate life. Let's go on living our lives the best we can and let's not let that fear stop us from doing good. Let's fill up those parking meters when we can; let's pick up some trash on the subway car; let's volunteer at a shelter or in a classroom; let's for once just listen to what others have to tell us instead of arguing our point; and let's let a customer purchase a large shake and split it into two smalls, one chocolate and one vanilla (this last one happened to us tonight at McDonald's).

And let's remember what this great nation is all about:

E pluribus, unum.


Adrienne said...

Welp. This was just the best thing I've read in a year.

Rosemary said...

I agree with Adrienne. She told me to read it because she said it was moving. You made me feel as if I were there. Thank you. I'm happy about the milkshakes too.