Friday, October 12, 2001
New Yorker heads home
The attack and destruction of the Twin Towers left me with an empty feeling. I was born in Manhattan before construction of the World Trade Center, but it figures in memories of my visits to the city and college years there. When the towers tumbled down, I felt as if a part of my personal history had crumbled beneath them.
I had planned for some time to attend a leadership council session at Barnard College during the first weekend in October. The September tragedy did not deter me. In fact, I felt more determined to go than ever. The city called me home.
Landing at La Guardia airport on a sunny morning last Friday, I had a perfect view of the New York skyline. Again, I felt that emptiness. After two days of the conference, I finally had a free afternoon and knew what I had to do I headed downtown on the IRT#1 subway.
I was surprised that the train took me all the way down to Chambers Street, the site of the World Trade Center. I walked up the stairs, out onto the street, and into a barrier. In fact, the whole street was blocked off as was every street within a two-block radius of the World Trade Center. A month has passed, yet the site remains cordoned off to pedestrians. In the distance, I could see smoke still rising from where the towers had once stood.
I found myself caught up in the crowd walking outside the perimeter of the barriers. Police on the scene prevented anyone from crossing the barriers. Officers kept people moving at street intersections to facilitate the passing of military personnel in small vehicles and the large trucks lugging debris away. Hundreds of people were walking, but there was little noise. The dazed and solemn crowd hugged the perimeter with eyes lifted to the space where the towers should have been.
After about six blocks, the acrid smell in the air worsened. One could see the charred skeleton of one of the buildings in the distance. The tears welled up in my eyes. I felt overwhelmed by sorrow for the lives lost so inexplicably. I can barely imagine the horrible suffering of the families and friends of those who perished. Like many Americans, I am saddened at the loss of basic trust in others.
The tragedy at the World Trade Center means so many different things to so many different people. For me, I had to see it to believe it. The Twin Towers are gone.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito