I volunteered my help in the search for survivors of the attack upon the World Trade Center. I don't quite know how to describe what I saw. The carnage is horrific. The
sites, smells and visual landscape are so awful as to put your mind into a
state of disbelief. I personally found it difficult to comprehend the
destruction and devastation that my eyes were conveying to my brain. It was
as if my brain was incapable of accepting what my senses were experiencing.
Standing upon the pile of debris that was once a proud American landmark is
something I hope no one else will have to experience. I thought that I was
fully prepared for being there, because I had watched so many hours of live
television coverage of the event but I now know that one can never be
prepared for that kind of destruction. Afterall, how can one prepare for
the "Pile" as it has now come to be known? For the Pile is more than a
mound of debris. It is a tomb for thousands of people and for the innocence
of this generation of Americans.
What bothered me most, were the simple things I witnessed. It was the
simple reminders of everyday life interrupted that drove home just how many
lives were affected by the viscous cowards flying those planes: restaurants
deserted with morning breakfasts still sitting on the table from Tuesday;
research reports from Wall Street firms scattered amongst the rubble; proofs
from someone's recently developed photos showing a smiling couple in happier
times lying amongst the twisted metal and the many other artifacts remaining
as they were Tuesday morning. That is when it hit me, on some level of
consciousness that I did not know existed, that there is nothing left of
what was once the home of 50,000 workers. In their place is a tomb
containing thousands of bodies and the pain and suffering of millions of
Working side-by-side with other volunteers, fire fighters, police officers
and military personnel made me proud to be an American and sad to be a New
Yorker. We have suffered a terrible blow. But, many, many people are working
tirelessly to find survivors among the rubble and to bring the victims home.
So many are working to return the victims to their loved ones, that no one
would have noticed if I was not there, as dozens of others would have gladly
filled my shoes. I am proud of all those people. Their spirit is what will
carry us all through this time of suffering and onto a victory over the
zealots who inflicted this damage.