Today is September 11th, 2013, the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that horrified the world. On that day, 2,996 people died, and the course of American history was forever altered.
Since that fateful day, New Yorkers have lived with the awareness of how vulnerable we all are. As we stroll underneath Manhattan skyscrapers, race through subway tunnels and drive over bridges, only people with the most blithe dispositions are spared the occasional loose thoughts of crashing steel and exploding fireballs.
Sometimes I can’t help but think about how New York is the subject of so many different people’s worst nightmares about the world. Throughout the Cold War, more than any other world city, New York was in the cross-hairs of nuclear destruction. The city has been destroyed in people’s imaginations so many times, be it in comic books, TV shows, movies and novels that I actually find it immensely comforting, that in reality, New York is still here.
For a first world city, we are tougher than most. We put up with trash, crime, rising rents, economic hardships and hurricanes. Despite the horror 12 years ago, the city is still here, thriving and expanding. Through the works of countless good and ordinary people, we have kept this city together, preserving it as the beacon for humanity, words expressed best on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty:
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Today, please take a moment to remember the victims of the attacks; those who perished in their attempt to save others; those who fell ill in the years that followed; those service members who have paid the ultimately sacrifice in the name of Justice abroad – and also the living, your neighbors, friends, family and the countless strangers of Gotham, who should never again see such tragedy befall our great, unyielding City.