"Dark, dangerous, disaster, despair -
Soiled and suffocated the sweet September air.
Hideous horror hit the heart with a hundred knives.
Terror tore through iron, ripped metal
But now we can breath again.
The dust has settled."
I wrote these words nine months after the terror attacks of 9/11. I was 16-years-old and the images of that day were still very vivid in my mind.
Although I didn’t watch the footage of the planes crashing or the Twin Towers collapsing until I came home from school later that day, from the fourth floor window of Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville that morning, I could see the smoke rising from the burning buildings.
When the principal announced that two planes had hit the World Trade Center, I heard my friend exclaim “My mom works there!” from across a row of desks and then watched her drop to the floor in hysterics as a faculty member solemnly asked her to come to the main office. In that moment it appeared her worst fear had been confirmed, but she ended up being one of the lucky ones. (Her mother was actually waiting in the hallway. She had not gone to the city that day.)
In the days that followed, we learned of friends who lost loved ones. The boys at my lunch table were ready to enlist in the military to avenge what had happened and every conversation seemed to revolve around 9/11.
I was glued to the T.V. and newspapers (which definitely fueled my desire to be a reporter) watching details emerge about the terrorist plot, but it all seemed unbelievable, more like a far-fetched movie than real life.
That was until I found myself at Ground Zero for the first time. It was an impromptu trip to the city with my best friend and a few wrong turns on our quest to find the South Street Seaport that landed us there. In that moment it became very real. Those Towers were gone, the people in the photos hanging on the makeshift memorials were all gone and it was more than just the iconic skyline that was suffering.
So for the first time – but not the last, I wrote to make sense of this out-of-control world. I couldn’t change it or fix it, but I realized I could use my words to honor, bring comfort and capture a moment in time when were all scared and devastated, but never gave up.
“Pictures plastered, flags flew-
Creating a collage of red, white and blue…
And faces of the 'Gone but never forgotten'
Were seen surrounding the site.
Memories of the missing immortalized
In our hearts burning bright.
They mourn and pray for their fallen hero
This, which I speak of, is Ground Zero.
Not the pile of wreckage and debris
A construction site constantly seen on TV
But a place of life, love and eulogy.
I saw the heart of New York that day in spring
Taller than any tower
Stronger than terror
An amazing, inspiring, intangible thing.
A power, a hope, a love that persevere
In a world where evil is prevalent
The beauty, the excitement, the people, New York
Seen through the eyes of the innocent.”