by Jennifer from New York City
My Dear Friends,
Today was the day that I needed to see for myself. I needed to be in the midst of the cameras and the people to hear them and feel something more than just sitting in front of the TV set glued for hours a day.
I went with my husband on the Q train that travels over the Manhattan Bridge. As I saw the light coming into the tunnel my heart started to beat faster and the tears just came to my eyes. The magnificent skyline of Manhattan and no Twin Towers. How is this possible? I cried uncontrollably. All I could say was, HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
We got off the train on 14th Street and came out at the Union Square Park. All along the walls were photos of missing people, the same ones you see on the news. The candles burning along the wall of the park. We entered the park and walked to the area where the majority of candles and flowers were placed. I stood for a few moments thinking if I should place my single candle amongst the thousands that were already there. I thought if I should place my flowers amongst the thousands that were already there. I came today for ME, so by me placing my candle and my flower it was for ME to them. It was not insignificant. It had meaning, it made me feel I did something. The man next to me said God Bless You. I tried to focus on his face, but the tears blurred my vision.
From there we walked to Washington Square. The arch must have been cleaned recently for it was so white. A flag hung and the gate surrounding it was wrapped in a canvas. Thousands of sayings, thousands of prayers were written on it. I had to write something. Someone might read it, ONE person might read it, all I said was "I wish I could wipe your tears and remove your sorrows, Peace be with you." Did I make a dent in any of this? Perhaps not. Again, I did it for ME.
We got to Greenwich Village and as we turned the corner there was a small fire house. I saw the signs and the flowers and I knew that they too lost members. I bought another bouquet of flowers. I walked closer hoping not to see the wonderful, smiling faces of the firemen on posters with the word missing below their photo. I stood in front of the house and place my flowers, the fireman standing at the door thanked me. I smiled and turned to walk away. I turned around and walked back to him. I shook his hand and gave him a huge hug, "NO" I said, "I thank you". My throat cracked as I tried to hold back the tears, but I just couldnt. I sobbed and he held me another moment and I walked on.
We were walking west to the West Side Highway. We werent sure how far we would get once we reached that area. We made it there and then headed south. Making that left turn you were hit instantly with the smoke and the realization that they were gone. The police, fire dept, construction co, tv crews were all over. Every corner having huge packages of drinks, fruit and other essentials for the rescue teams. NY is different. NO one dared to take it for themselves. We walked down to Canal Street. That was the end. We leaned on the police baracades and watched. What did I want to see? I am not sure. Some military personnel drove by and we clapped. Some firemen walked with their coats full of dust and their helmets under their arms and we clapped. They didnt smile. From the hell hole they just came from there was nothing to smile about. I stood there looking down the West Side Highway. A place I have driven through thousands of times. A beautiful place! The smoke, the sirens, the army, the police, the firemen were not supposed to be there.
Nothing will be the same now. Peoples lives are changed forever. New Yorkers will be different, I felt it already. A man bumped into me. It was an accident. He turned and he said I AM REALLY SORRY. In the past it would be muttered under the breath or not say anything at all.
Today we turn also to the rescue teams. To the firemen and the policemen and the construction workers and anyone else who is in the the area of ground zero working feverishly 24 hours a day. They know that the loved ones need closure. They know what their duties are and they are doing a magnificent job.
To these fine men and women I salute you.
Jennifer from New York City