On 9-11, the response of average New Yorkers and first responders inspired us. The federal government’s color codes, fear mongering and misdirection confounded us.
The in-fighting amongst all our electeds about how to rebuild at Ground Zero didn’t help, either. However, no matter how important it was to rebuild, they were only buildings. The people needed to heal. We all went back to work and tried to act like everything was normal. Except that normal was different now.
In the long term, this new normal wasn’t a “death of innocence” it was the birth of decency. Our perceptions changed. Work/life balance became more important. Becoming a 24/7 workaholic no longer held much of an appeal. There was life to live.
The city came back strong with a new, more humane spirit. Lower Manhattan is revitalized with the energy of young families and new businesses. This vibrant surrounding neighborhood insures that the victims of the attack will be remembered by regular New Yorkers every single day as they pass the World Trade Center Memorial.
Ten years later, I’m the father of an 11-month-old daughter. Someday, she’ll ask what 9-11 means.
I’ll tell her that it was a wake-up call reminding us that family is the most important thing in our lives. But we also learned that New Yorkers share a silent camaraderie. Behind each seemingly cranky, frustrated, too-cool-for-the-room face is someone who, when the going gets tough, has got your back.
One day, we’ll visit the 9-11 memorial to remember those who were lost — and to remember how our beloved city bounced back, striving every day to make the world a better place.
John Loscalzo is publisher of the Brooklyn Heights Blog.