September 11, 2008

A memorial at the World Trade Center site.
A memorial at the World Trade Center site.

It was a quiet city, at least in the area of Ground Zero.

People were silent as they walked around. I didn’t see anyone crying, but I did see T-shirts and signs … some claiming cover-ups about the attacks, others asking for remembrance, with flags and patriotism and claims to “Never Forget.”

There were pictures of victims with notes from family members and flags and flowers in makeshift memorials all around the World Trade Center site.

Crowd near World Trade Center site.
Crowd near World Trade Center site.

And uniforms all over the place – police uniforms from NYC and other places (I saw as far away as Toronto), fire department uniforms, Marine Corps uniforms.

Elsewhere in the city it was business as usual, but with reminders everywhere. Flags at half-mast, FDNY trucks and NYPD cars everywhere, more police officers on duty than I’ve ever seen here.

It’s hard to imagine what it was like 7 years ago today. It’s hard to imagine the fear and the horror and the worry and the chaos. Today is a beautiful day, just as I remember it was 7 years ago. There is sun but good shade with clouds, a nice breeze and a chill is beginning to signal fall. All those people left for work that morning and never returned. All those people.

It’s not that hard for me to imagine New Yorkers helping each other, pulling through for each other when their world had been torn apart. New Yorkers, who are tough and don’t talk to each other and don’t make eye contact on the subways. I believe it, though.

The Brooklyn Bridge with a flag at half-mast on Sept. 11, 2008.
The Brooklyn Bridge with a flag at half-mast on Sept. 11, 2008.

I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge this afternoon and thought of all those people, walking home after the attacks, hurting and consoling each other.

I hadn’t been to New York before the attacks. My first visit was in the summer of 2002. I never saw the towers. What I saw was the place where the towers once stood, a skyline that is changed and a city that is changed.  What I see now us a large space, an emptiness  where there was normalcy … and it’s so hard to imagine something that large and that great being taken from a place as  this.