There’s a parade going on outside my apartment in New York
City right now.
At least a hundred people wearing t-shirts and shorts are
flanking the streets, waving American flags.
Garbage cans are overflowing with Coke cans and Evian water
bottles. Little Italian sidewalk cafes are buzzing with
people and their dogs. Dozens of other people are lined up on
the roofs of buildings, peering out their apartment windows and
crowding on their balconies.
Of course, this is not a parade to celebrate anything. In
fact it’s not a real parade at all. There are no floats. No
costumes. No marching bands.
Instead of confetti, the street is littered with
mini-pamphlets that say, "Are You Good Enough to go to
Instead of music, the only noises in the air are sirens and
the hourly roar of a fighter plane.
Instead of festive hats, the majority of the crowd is wearing
masks – the white disposable ones that cover their noses and
mouths, not the Halloween kind – trying to shield themselves
from breathing in the asbestos particles.
And instead of the comforting smell of a New York parade –
hot pretzels and sugar roasted peanuts – there is the only a
growing stench of smoke and dust.
However, the sentiment of the gathering is clear. People of
all ages are bonding together to show their support for each
other, for New York and for America.
I live about 15 blocks from where the World Trade Center once
stood; my street is the closest most civilians can get to the
tragedy. Like several other intersections in New York City, it’s
become a de-facto meeting place for New Yorkers and tourists
alike. Not just for the clear view down Sixth Avenue, but for
the comfort of being around other human beings.
The congregation started yesterday, after the events
surrounding the World Trade Center attack It’s been a mix of
people standing there – young and old, and comprised of all
races – trying to bond and put some meaning to what happened.
There was no cheering on Tuesday. Only screams when the first
tower, and then the second, both crumbled to the ground, and
But now there is a new spirit in the air. News reports of
death and devastation continued, but there was a renewed
confidence in America’s fate. When over 40 construction trucks
and plows arrived from New Jersey and drove down my block, the
crowd swelled to applaud their help. When Army jeeps showed up,
driving downtown into the smoke, people gave them the ‘thumbs-up’
sign. And when fire trucks and ambulances, covered with soot and
ash, appeared through the smoky streets, we cheered, shouted ‘thank
you!’ and waved our flags wildly.
It’s the same spirit our elected leaders are encouraging.
President Bush said, "These acts shattered steel but
they can not shatter the steel of American resolve."
Yesterday Mayor Giuliani said, "New York is going to be
here. And we’re going to rebuild. And we’re going to be
stronger than we were before."
In front of the fire department on my corner, at Houston and
Sixth Avenue, there is a makeshift alter. Candles are scattered
on the street and photos and notes are posted on lampposts and
trees. But the photos are not of people. The pictures are
snapshots and postcards of New York City’s skyline. The
messages, little notes of hope and defiance say things like:
"I love you, New York."
"New York – I’ve never needed you more. Hang in
"New York: You can pull through this. You can withstand
"If anyone thinks they can beat New York…. They can’t.
We will not be silenced."
They’re all right.
New Yorkers do not surrender to this type of terrorism and
Americans are not bullied this easily.
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