September 14, 2001
I feel so numb. I feel so enormously sad. The scope of this tragedy
incomprehensible. It's like trying to understand infinity or God.
The grieving is all around. I am immersed in it, and still life
goes on. I go to work, but it's just going through the motions.
My thoughts are constantly elsewhere.
I am witness to such things as I never imagined to see, things
that are infinitely heartbreaking. I am also witness to the most
extrordinary acts of compassion, unity, and selflessness.
My vantage point has been Union Square. Union. That name has taken
on a new meaning for me. It is the place where I saw the last tower
fall. It is the place where I now grieve, along with thousands of
Where do I even begin to describe the images that I have etched
into memory forever?
Standing outside of the theatre where I went back to work yesterday,
I could see and smell the acrid smoke drifting uptown. I watched
New York City Police directing traffic and emergency vehicles racing
by. What stood out, though, was presense of the New York State Police
and an U.S. Army truck across the street where two Military Police
were also on hand. I felt compelled to say something, so I walked
over and I thanked them for being there. I told them that we all
feel safer knowing that they are looking out for us. And one of
them replied saying, "We wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
I went to Union Square during my dinner break. Someone had put
craft paper over the steps and people were writing prayers and thoughts
everywhere. I sat for while at the center of the steps where there
was a sculpture an artist had created in remembrance. Around it,
a large group of people were gathered, placing candles, flowers,
pictures, flags and hand written notes. I read the hearts of strangers
in these letters. I cried for these strangers. I cried for humanity.
Today was much the same. And much different. There was red, white
and blue everywhere. Flags hung in windows and on cars. In my neighborhood,
Puerto Rican flags strung across the streets were replaced with
the Stars and Stripes.
Again, I went to Union Square. I needed to be with people. Needed
to have them around me, to share in mutual sadness. The memorials
around the sculpture had doubled, thoughts and prayers overflowing
like the whole of New York could not contain them. I think the whole
of the Earth cannot contain
them. And the outpouring from the rest of the U.S. and other countries
is overwhelming. It's still so hard to believe or accept. As I left,
I saw a sign that read New Yorker's Want Justice, Not Revenge.
I went back later for the candlelight vigil to find the crowd had
quadrupled. The mood was somber and quiet as a few men sang proudly.
I heard a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace in the distance. The only
other noise was of the police trying to keep the people off the
street, fighter jets flying overhead and sirens. The sirens. Will
they ever be silent? As the evening waned, the mood shifted as saddened
people searched for ways to heal their grief. Searched for compassion
and companions. There were countless candles all over the park.
But not nearly as many candles as devastating flyers posted of missing
people. Flyers on trees and in the subway. All with pictures and
descriptions so sad and yet hopeful. Why has
it come to this?
I did see a change though. Later, the crowd was no longer silent.
People had broken off into different gatherings, each expressing
themselves in their own way. Some raising their voices in song,
some drumming and dancing, others discussing experiences or opinions.
I saw this and it gave me hope that we will heal, however long it
The tremendous anguish we share shatters so many boundaries. As
I stood on the corner, the same I stood at on Tuesday morning, I
took a photograph of the barren downtown night sky. A man crossing
the street stopped nearby and
said, "They're not there. They should be there, but they're
not." We both cried and clung to each other out of sorrow.
I suddenly feel older or maybe it's just less innocent. And I feel
violated. Where do we go from here? The prospect of war is frightening.
And in our own country, it's unimaginable.
There is so much else I cannot describe. It's too much. I have
seen a glimpse what humanity is capable of, both great and terrible.
Never have I been so proud to be a New Yorker and an American.
I have written to bear witness. I will never forget.
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