9/11 Pride in New York

Sept. 11, 2001. I think it is safe to say that nobody can, or ever will, forget that horrific day in which our nation’s limits were tested and the strength of our country grew in a matter of a few hours. No, it is simply impossible to erase Sept. 11 from our minds, and more importantly, from our hearts.
Which is why, a solid five years later, Americans continue to amaze and astound the world with endurance, determination and love for one another, namely on the anniversary of one of the worst terrorist attacks in history.
I am a native New Yorker of 15 years, and was a sophomore at my high school in Westchester when the planes hit the World Trade Center.
Much like our parents felt when JFK was assassinated, I can vividly recall everything about that day, from the history class I was in to the strange feeling my classmates and I had before the news was even announced.
At that time, I had no control over what was happening in the city that never sleeps. All I knew was that I wanted to do my part in any way that I could.
Which is why, when I was on a trip back to my former home and realized I would be privileged enough to be in New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11, I didn’t think twice. It’s never too late, I told myself, and off to Ground Zero I went.
The subway is known as a dangerous mode of transportation, yet in all honesty, I have never felt safer. The riders spoke with their faces: They were New Yorkers, and they were proud.
Everyone on that subway, at least for that day, was a brother and a sister to one another.
Stepping off at Fulton Street and climbing the stairs to reality, I immediately heard the names of the victims being announced by their families; surreal, since only about an hour prior was I watching this on television.
Walking down the street towards Ground Zero, I felt as if I were walking to my death. The somber faces, shades of gray and memorial sites hit me like a ton of bricks.
A gate separated the ceremony being held by the families of the victims from the general public. However, this was the only separation that occurred that day at Ground Zero.
A homeless man, pressed up against the gate, stared at the ground while holding a cardboard sign reading, ‘Believe in America.’ Professional images were posted across the top of the gate, giving an even closer look at the people that were affected that day. Banners were lying on the ground so that everyone could be a part of the grieving process, including me.
Never before had I seen so much beauty and so much tragedy all at once.
Freedom of speech was clearly evident, especially from a group known as ‘Investigate 9/11.’ New Yorkers of all races and ages displayed their black shirts bearing their organization’s title. They interviewed others around them about the many questions left unanswered about 9/11.
Another group was the International Truth Movement, consisting of three men drumming in yellow togas.
Artwork abounded at Ground Zero, especially a painted mural of the towers held together by Lady Liberty. Pictures of victims’ faces covered each building.
On the other side, two men held up a giant photograph of Gandhi cut out like a puzzle. Everywhere I turned, there was something happening, whether it was a hug, a tear or merely a look.
Many human emotions were exuded on a single block of New York City, all for one reason. I couldn’t have felt more honored be a part of it.
It never ceases to amaze me that five years after the Twin Towers were demolished, America is still capable of coming together as one to offer their love and support for their country and fellow man.
Residing in California may put me thousands of miles away from where I lived, but on Sept. 11, 2006, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a New Yorker.