Monday, September 11, 2017

The Towers of My Memory

This is me (yes, it is really me—stop laughing!) probably in the summer of 1983, on the Staten Island Ferry gesturing to the barely visible Manhattan skyline in the foggy distance. It's not just the picture quality here; I recall that it was this sort of cloudy day, though I can't recall who took the picture. Needless to say, we had no selfies back then.

Can you see the two exceptionally tall buildings through the mist, standing far above the others? I remember when those "twin towers" opened ten years earlier.

For a long time, they were just part of the landscape of New York.

During the course of many visits, I went up to the top and marveled at the amazing views. (It was fun to take visiting Europeans up there; in fact it's fun just taking them to New York, which is not like anything they've ever seen except in the movies). I hung around various parts of the buildings day and night, walked by them, saw them from many angles of the skyline, saw them from airplane windows....

It seemed like they would just be there forever. Like mountains.

The nightmare that took place 16 years ago was inconceivable for a large part of my life. We grew up imagining nuclear war (and those images are proving more resilient than I had hoped). But the primitive evil of September 11, 2001, along with the personal catastrophes and the heroism that followed, proved once again a very old truth.

It proved that the greatest power in the worldfor violence and destruction or for valor and courage and solidarityremains the human heart with its designs, its choices for good or evil, and its vocation that draws it to love and to hope and to begin again.