Thank you New York.
Where monumental towers once reached into the sky, a monumental memorial now pours healing into their footprint. Where chaotic debris was tirelessly and carefully removed, calm water endlessly cascades into your soul. The pit, where papers drifted aimlessly down to broken blocks and bars, now hosts a park where leaves flutter in a welcome breeze and fall gently to a poignant pathway that brings us within reach of your loss. The names. Etched into bronze they draw our breath into somber silence and brazenly beckon us to lift our eyes to where you, New York, once again reach the skies.
Our hearts were trampled in the wreckage, but you lost your mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. Our spirits were crushed in the carnage, but you lost your fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. Our world was robbed of peace and security but you were robbed of lives that began the day with breakfast in your kitchen, a shared car or train, a neighborly exchange, a “have a good day” phone call.
I’m sorry, New York, my God I’m so sorry. The world, who gathered peacefully and vibrantly in your gateway to freedom and coexistence suffered at your doorstep. And you didn’t ask for it. You didn’t deserve it.
But you, New York, led the world in a rally to rise above. You never stopped rising above. You never stopped. You led a unified charge to victory over senseless inhumanity. Across the nation, flags rose, determination rose, pride rose. And in your ground zero, a new tower rose.
You, New York, cleared the foundation of crumbled concrete and mangled steel and we watched. We watched you peel away the rabbled reminder of hate and shock. And terror. You, New York, laid the cornerstone of determination and strength. And triumph. And we watched and were challenged to build the same stalwart faith in our existence and a symbiotic pride and promise to “never forget.”
The freedom tower, not just reaching the sky but reflecting the sky. The pools, fittingly named “Reflecting Absence”, not just reflecting the tower, but flowing with honor and tribute to the fallen. I stood there, New York, and I saw the reflection of every last ounce of grit that every American and, indeed, citizen of the world dug deep to find. We found it. The world found what they were made of. Grit. And heart. And love. And, again, we gather at your gateway. We pay our respects and reflect upon how we are changed by what you led us to endure.
Thank you, New York, for leading the charge to rise again and rise above. You did it your way. You brought astounding beauty from the belly of the beast. You did it with the spectacular spirit and style that nations have come to know you for. You found your poetry and poured it into a fountain for a world that still rises above. And loves, and remembers.