View From The Middle
Now, five years and three days after the tragedy of 9/11/01, we have given ourselves time for retrospection and introspection. With proper fanfare, ceremony and sadness, we have honored those who died and given our warnings to those who killed them.
We have heard testimonials from the young and the old and those who escaped.
We have had President Bush in our city and at the Pentagon and at the field in Pennsylvania where the fourth plane crashed on that infamous day.
As a service to our community and readers, the Canarsie Courier, with our two-page memorial last week, also paid tribute to the day, and to the people here who would have their voices heard.
The section with your emotions and memories of that horrible day was engineered by Features Editor Neil S. Friedman, who admitted he didn't expect that the answers would be so poignant; so thoughtful.
Our man-on-the-street pollster Bill O'Neill didn't have to take pictures to match the question of the week for his Opinion column, instead following our directions to "just get their answers and their names and get enough of them so we can have a good consensus of how people thought and reacted on that day." Bill later came back from his Canarsie street corners beaming because he had gotten so many. Friedman would indeed have a tough choice as to the best of the bunch.
Meanwhile, we ran a request in the paper a month previously asking for your comments on how you remember that day. Admittedly, we couldn't take the time or space to fit all the answers, especially along with O'Neill's group, but we certainly did get a consensus - and we're grateful to all the readers who, essentially, poured their hearts out.
Most of us - meaning Canarsiens and those who live in the surrounding areas - have our memories of September 11, five years ago. You may not have written them down for us for that recent issue, but that's okay. By merely reading about it again, even in our modest transcription, some of you might have been given more time for reflection on where we were then, where we are now and where we're going.
Surrogate Court Judge Frank Seddio, who was our State Assemblyman when the tragedy occurred, was kind enough to send us his remembrance, which was as compelling, in a way, as the many personal stories we all tell now and will tell to our grandchildren. Being a retired police officer, Seddio dropped what he was doing and proceeded to Ground Zero to see if he could help.
We published the poignant letters from all over, such as the one from a woman who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue whose thoughts on that day were that a friend might have been in the North Tower of the Trade Center when the first plane crashed into it. She was later pleased to hear her friend had survived, but first she said her heart goes out to those who lost loved ones "because I know how they feel. I was just angry as to how anyone could be so cruel to do something like this."
There was the letter from the man who, with his wife, had gone to Atlantic City on 9/10 and was stranded and lost more money gambling than he had intended because he couldn't get back to the city. He said he still felt lucky, though, "to be out of New York City during such a tragic week."
Then there was the executive whose office was on 23rd Street near Park Avenue in Manhattan who said she and her staff could see the black smoke and part of the towers from a window. When she went home, she walked to 14th Street to catch the subway and thought, "How could there be anything wrong on such a beautiful day?"
The other letters had the same tone. One short one in particular struck us, which said she remembered..." Just the horror. You thought it wasn't real. You thought it was another movie. And then reality set in. And then you get the shivers - and you start to cry."
In Judge Seddio's letter, it sort of sums things up in a present philosophy: "We have grown stronger in ways, but somehow America's innocence was lost that tragic day and the need to be ever vigilant has become routine."