We all remember where we were when we heard the news. Or for some of us, saw it unfold. The horror of the moment, the sadness, the fear. The lives lost. Friends, parents, siblings, co-workers. Everyone had someone they were looking for, everyone had a story to tell.
In the days after, it came that I had to go downtown for work, just a few blocks north of the trade center. It was the first day that the subway was running in that area. The first day the courts and federal buildings were opening. As the train passed the World Trade Center station, closed, of course, and only half lit, we were all silent, and somber. Some in tribute, some in prayer. All with respect. Lights flickered, certainly from damages sustained during the attacks, but almost like that of a candle, whispering of those lost.
I could never have imagined exiting one of the busiest subway stations into a world of silence. City workers were washing the ash off of a fountain. Swings at the park nearby were silent and still. For the first and only time of my life, I could hear birds in downtown Manhattan. No cars were allowed in the streets, no planes were in the air. The city was silent, and still. The only sounds we heard were those of the recovery efforts not too far away. No one spoke on the streets. Not one word.
In the streets were tanks. And soldiers. Barriers set up on every corner so that everyone crossing had to pass by the soldiers on patrol. Doing their best to keep us safe, yes. But in my America, tanks had no place on the streets. It seemed unreal. Impossible.
And in those days, and the days that followed, the thing that stayed with me most was the patriotism that surfaced, the determination to survive, the love of country. We’ve moved away a little bit from that. But today, every street I’ve looked down, more houses than not proudly hang their flag. So I say without shame, and full of pride, I love my country. I do. And I say to you, may God Bless you all, and may God Bless the USA.