Remembering the tragic events of September 11th isn’t difficult for me. On a daily basis I look up and see the Freedom Tower, now the tallest building in New York City. Over the last several years I’ve watched the tower grow and slowly sneak past the neighboring buildings. While it may be difficult to see on certain days, what it stands for is far more important than a fleeting moment of sadness for me.
I was several hours away and in high school at the time of the events – currently I live a few blocks away. If you had asked me 13 years ago if I would ever live in Battery Park City or a nearby neighborhood I probably would have looked a bit concerned. My life near the former site of the Twin Towers is incredibly normal, except for maybe the week leading up to the anniversary.
What does it really feel like to live a few blocks away during the anniversary – it feels strange. Not surprisingly it’s a little tense, not only in my own head, but on the faces of everyone I pass. Camera crews invade our neighborhoods and police presence is increased, which is satisfying but also a very real reminder of the world we live in. I feel entirely safe, but during this time it’s easy to let my mind wonder and think of all the possibilities. But it’s fleeting, and life keeps on ticking forward – my daughter throws her food on the floor and I snap back.
After 13 years of growth and rebuilding the former ground zero site is almost entirely open. The stunning memorial, the glistening tower with the first 20 stories made of solid concrete, the newly opened museum, the subways and pedestrian walkways are all open or close to completion. Remembering the early images of two massive buildings reduced to rubble, ground zero has now been reborn.
Life in this country has never been the same since 9/11. The innocence and comfort in thinking it can’t happen here is gone. Every time I walk to the grocery store, the park, to dance class, I see the tower shining up towards the sky. In every picture I take, the building is lurking in the background. My daughter will one day look up, recognize the tower, and know she is close to home.
It’s a strange realization at times to be so close to the site of such a monumental catastrophe, but my heart is always with the victims, the families, and those who witnessed the events and lived on the streets I now roam.
We will honor your lives, always and forever.