Reflections on 9/11: Hold onto the Spirit of 9/12

September 12, 2012

I am an active participant in Solosez (affectionately referred to as “The Firm” by its members),  a listserv provided by the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division and its members. Earlier today, one of my fellow Sezzers, Susan Zinder,  shared the following, very poignant, observation:

Every year we mourn on September 11, but I think it’s also incredibly important to remember September 12, and the days after.

As someone who has lived in NYC for over 25 years, I can only say the City and its citizens (and even the nation) were never as beautiful as they were in the days following the attacks.

First ­ the weather was beautiful and the City was quiet, like in a blizzard.  No car horns honking, no one yelling, no one angry.   We were in a small town of millions.  Yes, we were all in shock, but you could not walk down the street without catching EVERYONE’s eye ­ and all of us were asking each other with our eyes the same small town question ­ Are you ok?  Is your family ok?

I can’t begin to say how incredible it was to walk down the street.  We were all safe in each others’ eyes and hearts.

Then there was the activity to assist the rescue ­ not just people spontaneously raising money for the Red Cross ­ buildings collecting sweatshirts for the rescue people to wear in the cool evening and towels to get them clean from the dust.  Outside drug stores people were collecting all sorts of things people were buying in the stores to send downtown.

And always ­ looking at each other ­ are you ok?

The photos- ­ the photos ­ – the photos of the missing.  So sad, but seeing the missing in their lives and the presence of their loved ones ­ you looked at them in that small chance and hope that you might see any of them walking in a daze down the street.

There was the Guitar Man in Central Park the Saturday after the attacks ­every week he goes to the Park and sings but that day all the money he collected went to the fundraising in response to the attacks.  We were weeping in the park ­ but though strangers we were together.

I live near Broadway and for weeks after you knew where  all the wide load heavy equipment that was being driven down Broadway was going.  And when you saw it you prayed in your heart that it might find someone alive in a pocket ­ and so you saw it, you knew and you sent your wishes with the equipment.

A few weeks after the funeral signs for the firefighters started going up in the neighborhoods ­ basically so many had been lost that FDNY couldn’t send to each funeral the usual honor guard, so the neighborhoods where the funerals were being held were enlisted to get civilians to form the honor guard.  There weren’t that many firefighters who had funerals in my neighborhood ­ but there was one ­ Ruben Dave Correa.  I went to his funeral and stood outside the church in one of a number of lines of civilians as his casket came around the corner to the church on a firetruck – – as soon as we saw the casket all of us snapped to attention.  None of us were cops, or firefighters (or to my knowledge soldiers, though some may have been veterans) – but we all just snapped to attention ­ I don’t think I did it consciously, but I did it.

When 3 weeks or so after the attacks (and it wasn’t before) – I heard the first car horn honk since the day of the attacks, I smiled and thought ­ oh, a car honking, we’re getting back to normal.

The Friday night after the attacks my synagogue (which is known for being vibrant and at the time would have over 600 at services every Friday night) had to hold 2 extra services to accommodate all, who were in line holding candles.

My synagogue (like many others and churches and mosques) sent volunteers to staff the rest stations for the rescue and clean up workers downtown, particularly at St. Paul’s Chapel and I volunteered on Thanksgiving and New Years,  – I was with people who had come up from a church in Texas and from all over the City and the country.

We should mourn on 9/11 ­ but we also need to hold to the spirit of 9/12 and the days and weeks after ­ the sky was beautiful, the city was beautiful, the nation was beautiful as we all reached together across political, geographic, religious and so many other lines and came together thinking ­ I want you and your family to be ok, ­ are you?

Susan, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

We do forget that, like the phoenix, we rose from the ashes. We came together as a community – we were a single, united family.

May their memories be as blessings …

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