BY BARBARA BAPTISTE
As the cliche goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Today this recognizable scene evokes patriotism. On another Tuesday, eleven years ago, fear was the operative word. No one knew exactly what had happened or what would/could happen next. Most all Americans have their own recollections of that infamous day; mine is just one of many.
At the time of the attack, I was living in northern N.J., on the other side of the Hudson River, across from NEW YORK. The tri-state area is normally immune to the drone of jet planes [arriving and departing] from the surrounding airports. However, on that night, the air space was closed to all commercial flights. The silence was deafening, save for the ominous sound of fighter planes, circling overhead. The world, as we knew it, would never be the same again.
I had traveled into Manhattan a few weeks later to pay homage when the sight of a mammoth American flag, hanging down half-way across the George Washington Bridge, took my breath away. I have worked and played in this great city. It was important for me to connect.
As vehicles were not permitted within miles of Ground Zero, traveling on foot was the only means of getting somewhat close to the site. Ignoring blistered feet, on-lookers spoke in reverent whispers. We were there to honor a city and its fallen people. Weeks later and the destruction was still smoldering. The odor was indescribable. The devastation was palpable.
Manhattan, strewn in Red, White and Blue, was in mourning. The world was horrified; NEW YORK was bleeding. This nightmare had hit home! For no matter what may be said of New Yorkers (and, yes, they would mow you down for a taxi cab), in the face of a crisis, the support is astounding. New York, with its millions of workers and residents, is just like any small town USA. It takes care of its own. It has a pulse. It has a heart that it beats together to lend support for its family when hurting.
Police, fire fighters, and pedestrians responded, without question or pause, regardless of color, race, creed, political persuasion, or financial status. In the face of abject fear, the exodus off the island of Manhattan was conducted quietly and with order. Not knowing for sure what might come next, throngs of people traveled on foot across Manhattan’s bridges to what they had only hoped and prayed would be safety. I, personally, do not believe that this nightmare could have been carried off quite so sanely anywhere else in the world, except in NEW YORK CITY!
Along with the self-sacrificing respondents, this great city (that never sleeps) deserves to be commended and honored for its extreme heroism. You did your country proud!
Kudos NEW YORK!
Love from Barbara’s World