Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11

File this under: “this entry has nothing to do with Academic Support.” Today is the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks on New York, Washington and the brave plane that went down in Pennsylvania. According to NPR, over 3000 people perished in one day. And where are we five years later? We’ve lost almost as many people in our “War on Terror.” Is there a difference between someone taking our citizens and giving them up? I’m not sure there is.

Maybe my view has changed because in the time since 9/11/01, I’ve had a son. Since it was first obvious to me that I was having a boy (the ultrasound), I’ve had a big problem with war. Before you hit that comment link, I know that my thinking is sexist and I am duly ashamed. But before seeing the tell-tale signs of boyness on the screen, I hadn’t thought about war and soldiers except in the context of my nieces and nephews who are growing up in Israel and destined to join the army someday.

It is not as if I am unfamiliar with the idea of war and soldiers. My father fought in WWII, but his stories usually involved big snakes and Jeep tires (he was stationed in Panama and the Philippines). My father thought the war was educational in that he might never have left Brooklyn and seen some other part of the world had he not be drafted. I don’t know what he would have thought of this current situation.

And, it is not as if I did not know anyone who died in the 9/11 attacks. For many years, I was a prosecutor in the New York Family Court. Our courthouse was about six blocks north of the World Trade Center. (All of my directions to the courthouse involved using the World Trade Center as an orienting landmark.) Most importantly, I was the person in my office that handled the runaways and filed the petitions to have their home states take custody of them. In that capacity, I was the de facto liaison with the Port Authority Police Department. I ended up with most of the shoplifting and drug interdiction cases from the bus terminal, George Washington Bridge and World Trade Center as well. I did a number of trials with officers whose pictures I later saw lining the streets downtown.<>

I am also a native New Yorker. I remember the day the World Trade Center was finished and thinking how ugly it was, now I take it back. I remember the clever ads channel 11 used to show using the twin towers for their logo. I now find that I get disoriented in lower Manhattan without my insanely large directional landmark. I suppose I could find other ways to ascertain my whereabouts, but some part of me refuses to do so. I think I haven’t re-oriented myself so I can remember what is not there.

So, on the anniversary of this tragedy, I think about my friends in the Port Authority Police who gave up everything to keep us safe. I think about all the firefighters and police officers that I didn’t know who did the same and those who still put themselves on the line each and every day and I say this to the world: my son is 18 months old, you have 16 and a half years to find a lasting peace, or else. (ezs)

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