Grieving in New York
By Alicia Colon
September 13, 2001
Iím glad I am a print journalist rather than in the broadcast media because I am having a difficult time not crying. Every time I have received a call from a relative or friend inquiring on our safety, I have broken down and that may be unprofessional but I am in a state of intense sorrow. Forgive me.
I was born in Manhattan at a time when the Empire State Building was our most identifiable landmark. Like many natives, I was somewhat irked at it being replaced by the Twin Towers but over the years, they became a source of pride. Every time I would take the no. 6 bus down Church Street past the World Trade Center, I couldnít help but raise my eyes toward those gleaming stone pillars in awe. On Tuesday, I could feel my heart break in two when I witnessed the first tower melt away followed soon by the remaining one.
I used to work in the Vista Hotel which later became the Marriott Hotel and which is no more. It will be weeks before I learn which of the thousands dead were former co-workers or acquaintances. My immediate family is safe but everybody here in New York City knows someone impacted by this disaster. The principal of my daughterís school has a brother who is on the list of missing fireman. My niece is safe only because she was late for work.
There are signs of intense anger in the neighborhood. My neighbors are Albanian Muslims and a woman walking her dog barked at them, "Speak English, You should feel lucky to be here. " She didnít care that these people are actually Arab-Americans and half of them born here. I went into a local discount store looking for a small American flag and the clerk there had switched on the radio station blasting what sounded like Arabic music. The other customers looked at each other with unconcealed anger at the insensitive idiot and as I was checking out, I told the clerk, that it wasnít very smart to play that music right now. I told him that people were very, very angry and he should be more sensitive to that.
New York is truly a melting pot and we are used to living in an international community that despite our differences has managed to live in harmony. Now that amity will be put through a strenuous test but I am confident that we New Yorkers will strive above hostile emotions and recognize those neighbors and friends who are innocent of any wrongdoing.
Iíve read reports of young men enlisting in the armed forces and a surge of patriotic displays of emotion throughout the city. A reporter stuck in traffic headed towards the city saw a woman stick a flag out her window urging others to be patient and not to lose their tempers. I tried in vain to buy a small flag because all the stores are sold out. As I walked along the street I noticed the proliferation of flags flying on the buildings or attached to car antennae.
Iím not going to join those other conservative columnists who are blaming the past eight years under a commander-in-chief who loathed the military for our weakened state of security. Itís fruitless to cast blame at this stage of the game. The damage is done and we must expend our energies on making decisions for our future. This attack on our way of life should be a wake-up call, not only for the way we choose our leaders but also for how we live our lives.
Here in New York, we have learned the hard way that the most important thing in our lives is not made of concrete but flesh and blood and that our enemies are those who have no respect for life. It has been made clear that the prime suspect of the World Trade Center destruction is Osama bin Laden, a terrorist leader who has vowed to destroy the United States and whose followers are led to believe that they are doing Allahís work. The truth is that bin Ladenís god is Satan not Allah.
As we look at those news reports showing Palestinians, Egyptians and other Arab citizens cheering the U.S. attack, we have to wonder what has made it so easy for these people to believe that we are an evil nation. They have judged us by what they witness as a godless society and we must admit that we do appear to be just that. Our leaders have proven to be morally bankrupt and our films and entertainment erroneously reflect a society interested only in hedonistic behavior. Media pundits mock any one daring to express the opinion that respect for life should extend to the unborn. Is it any wonder that our enemies find it so easy to spread the vicious lie that we are infidels when we ourselves have chosen to diminish the importance of God in our lives?
Mother Teresa was once asked how God could have created such a terrible disease like AIDS. She answered that He had not created it but that she believed that He would allow it to exist for reasons we cannot understand. I feel that the same thing applies in our present situation. It was sheer evil that has led to the destruction of the World Trade Center but I believe in the power of our God and I believe that there will be evidence of His miraculous power in the days to come.
Do not despair for we are on the side of the angels.
After publishing this article, it was confirmed that the principal's brother has been confirmed dead. Our sympathies are with him and his family.
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Copyright 2001 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion,
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