I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, and have spent my adult life in NYC. As a young girl I rode the subways with my father on weekends for a day in “the city”. One afternoon, when I was about 8 years old, I looked out the subway window with my hands pressed up and my nose almost touching the glass, staring in wonder at the skyline of Manhattan. That skyline has always caused my heart to skip a beat. But on this particular day, which I remember as if it were yesterday, I noticed two buildings that were partially constructed and looked pretty big to me, even amongst all the other buildings. I asked, “Daddy!!! What’s that?!” to which he replied with perceptible pride, “Honey, those are the twin towers of the World Trade Center. They are going to be the biggest buildings in the world.” My dad was a World War ll veteran and expressed his pride in being an American in many ways. I can still hear his reverent tone that told me right away this was something very important. Each weekend we had a game of looking to see how tall those buildings had gotten, which was taller, and which would be finished first.
Years later, two days before the attacks, I was in Greenwich Village with my brother, another dyed in the wool New Yorker having a cappuccino at a cafe as we lazily discussed our options for the day, “Let’s do New York like we are visiting for the first time! Statue of Liberty? Empire State Building?” Then he disclosed that he’d never been to the top of the Twin Towers. “What?!” I all but insisted that’s what we would do, but then he begged off, “Let’s just relax and enjoy the afternoon.”” I will never ever forget what I said to him next. “You’re right. Let’s just take it easy. Those towers are always gonna be there.”
On September 11, I awoke to a delightful break from the sweltering heat and humidity we had endured all summer long. I was singing at a nursing home, a distance away from the Financial District, and had begun engaging with the residents in the dementia unit when a nurse ran in saying, “A small plane just hit the twin towers!” We ran to the TV and watched in horror, along with 2 billion other people, as the second plane hit. This was no accident. All I could think was “Wow, it’s going to take a long time to repair this damage.” My heart broke in a thousand different ways as I watched what happened over the next hour or so. The Activities Director said I could go home if I wanted to and that the residents on the Dementia Unit would not really know the difference. Those words struck a nerve in me. I wanted to stay. I wanted to have a few more hours in a room full of people who did not know the world just changed.
Recently a lady asked me if I get upset to see people taking pictures at the Memorial. Nope. I just know that somewhere at some time or another there is a little girl on a subway car looking out the window in wonder at our skyline and asking her father, “Daddy!! What’s that big building there?” And he can answer with even more pride today “That is One World Trade, honey, one of the tallest buildings in the whole world.” That makes me happy.