Sunday, September 23, 2001

Over the Bridge

Over the Bridge

This morning, for the first time since the 11th, my dog and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. An important occasion for me, it brought me back to the grandest view in the world of human creations. Certainly, it is the grandest in terms of modern structures. Not only can you see the Brooklyn Bridge's own beauty, but in sight are three other great bridges, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Woolworth Building. You can also see the end of Wall St, the South Street Seaport and its sailing ship, the Pier 17 mall (where a hospital ship was docked today), and dozens of other landmarks, all part of what makes New York the greatest city on Earth.

The spot where the towers stood was hard to locate exactly from the bridge, even to one who has walked toward them a hundred times. Other buildings shield ground zero from prying eyes and the smoke has cleared. I knew about where they had been, of course, but there's no gaping hole in the view from the bridge, just an oppressive awareness that something is missing, something is wrong.

Over the bridge, by City Hall, I began to smell the residue of the explosions and fires. The police presence grew stronger, and I felt as though I were intruding. I walked down to where I could see parts of the cranes working and a corner of the blackened stump of one of the towers, but I went no further.

Signs of the gargantuan resuce effort were everywhere. In front of Trinity Church were rows of porta-johns. One trailor had a hasty sign on it: "If you need to make a call, stop here." Huge coffee urns were stashed in various corners.

It has been almost two weeks, but the people I saw were subdued. Though I did see occasional smiles and laughter, they did not come from the workers. The police, in particular, looked tired and mournful. One I passed stood with his head bowed, his eyes closed. Another stared straight ahead, tears in his eyes.

It's going to take time for us to recover, but New York continues.

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