Remembering that sunny day in Manhattan
I can relate very well to your article concerning the Mosque being erected at Ground Zero. I too lived in the shadows of the Twin Towers in an apartment on Water Street during the years I worked in Manhattan. I remember treating myself to brunch on a wonderfully clear, blue day, at the Windows on the World restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower. I was in awe of the panoramic view. The restaurant closed in 1993 after a bombing attempt failed to topple the
Towers from below, killing six people.
When I first heard on Sept. 11, 2001 that a plane had crashed into one of the towers, I thought it was probably a private plane in trouble. I knew a plane had hit the Empire State Building in 1945. In heavy fog, the pilot was redirected to land in Newark instead of Laguardia Airport. After swerving to avoid the Chrysler building, he lost control and slammed into the 72 nd floor, killing 14 people. It was not hard for me to imagine something even worse could happen in the city.
But minutes later when I saw the second tower had been hit, I literally fell to my knees. These great architectural wonders had always seemed uniquely fragile and vulnerable to me. I knew they could collapse, and when they did I knew thousands of people had died. It was as if I felt myself falling from the beautiful perch I had enjoyed that day, and I wept. I didn’t immediately think about who was to blame; I didn’t have to. To me they were simply insane. I did not try to pin the insanity on one particular race, religion or creed. This happened at the World Trade Center and on that day humans of every imaginable race, religion and creed died.
I strongly believe it is time for education and healing. We have to move beyond the fears that are at the heart of this whole debate. Insane actions and reactions will forever plague this planet we all share, but when there is a fire you don’t throw gasoline on it. You snuff it out, you salvage what is good and you rebuild.
My younger son is working for the ACLU of Northern California this summer. He was walking to work when I text him and said how pleased I was the ACLU had come out in favor of the Mosque at Ground Zero. He was pleased as well. George was 12 years old on that fateful day and struggled to understand what it all meant. He is part of a generation that remembers; but I believe he is also part of a generation with the capacity to move forward.