Monday, 4 June 2012
A changing skyline.
Although we didn't have time to go in to the September 11th Memorial Plaza on this occasion, we stood far below the new tower and gazed up. It seemed hard to believe, on a quiet summer afternoon, that just over ten years ago this was a place that exploded into horror; that people all around these streets would have been running, escaping as the towers collapsed.
I had been wondering how to explain why we were there to the boys. I've heard people around here say that they haven't taken their kids to Ground Zero and don't know how to tell them about it - but in my experience of these things, children can take often information like this in their stride. In the end I decided just to tell them straight what happened; I said some bad people flew planes into the previous buildings deliberately, and they fell down, and now they were building a new one. As I predicted, while they obviously found it confusing news, they didn't seem too upset or traumatised - I expect that, to them, it sounded a bit like a storyline out of Spider Man or Batman. (But they knew it was a sombre subject. Later, I heard Littleboy 1 talking to one of his cousins very solemnly about the 'twin brothers', as he called the twin towers. He'd obviously taken it all in).
I told the boys that they might hear people at school mention "9/11", and if they did, then this was what they were referring to - but the boys said they hadn't ever heard of it. In truth, nearly everyone we know here was affected by it. Many of our local friends lived in the city at the time, or worked downtown near the World Trade Center. But it was so traumatic an event that it is barely mentioned by New Yorkers. And when it is, most people just shudder and quickly change the subject. It's not one of those 'where were you when JFK was shot/Diana died' conversations. It's too close to home.
Nevertheless, the fact that a new tower is now rising from the ashes of Ground Zero shows that New York is moving on. The terrible events of September 11,2001 will clearly not be forgotten in our lifetime. But this city is resilient, and pretty soon the new skyline may become as iconic as the old one.