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A Long Day's Journey into Light - A Hoboken resident visits the 9/11 memorial at Pier A
A Long Day's Journey into Light
A Hoboken resident visits the 9/11 memorial at Pier A
By: Pamela Ross
For the past few years, I have been a grateful resident of Hoboken. A refugee from the wrath of Sept. 11, I am still healing. Every day I spend in my adopted "hometown" is a welcome day. My favorite walks are up and down Washington Street or on the river walk. I have found my favorite stores and hangouts. I smile at people on the street. I nod to the denizens of this friendly town. I am beginning to feel like a denizen, myself.
Recently, I went into a local store to find out the exact place of the memorial. Somebody said "Why bother? nobody cares any more."
"What?!?" I wheeled angrily around to face this person. I saw sad eyes and a mournful mouth.
"People don't talk about it much any more. If it didn't affect them directly, they don't want to think about it." I left the store then, determined to find the Hoboken memorial. I had put off visiting it until now. I just couldn't bring myself to go.
I walked to Pier A and saw the small tear drop shaped tribute with the names of the 39 victims engraved on it. I sat down at the base of it to think. It was a beautiful sunny day and children romped around the park, laughing and calling to each other. Mothers wheeled infants in carriages, and expectant mothers sauntered by, basking in the late afternoon rays of the August sun. Maybe this post-Sept. 11 baby boom was oblivious to the major impact of the tragedy.
Sept. 11 shattered thousands of lives and left many children alone, forced to grow up without a parent. I wondered - Do children and parents who lived through that time see the world differently? How do they view those events now after six years? How do you absorb the historical impact of 3,000 people being murdered in a little over an hour?
I still remember what a friend said to me the day after, cautioning me with a sadder reality, saying, "the sun is rising on a different world. It's all changed now. History has a new and sadder face." As the dust settled and I finally returned home to Ground Zero, I saw and smelled disaster everywhere. Residents lined the streets, searching the crowds for lost friends and family members. Children stood with friends and family waiting in vain for the parent. It was a vast community of grief.
Sitting by the monument, I thought about the 39 Hobokenites who were lost that day. How can people turn away from this, I wondered? Anniversaries of traumatic events are difficult for everybody, I reasoned. In the inevitable media coverage surrounding the six-year anniversary, all children throughout the world will be exposed yet again to horrific and distressing images. Is the notion of time as a healer inappropriate for the victims of Sept. 11?
Yet I remember the seemingly endless acts of generosity and kindness displayed everywhere after the tragedy. As I took that painful journey through the past, huddled at the bottom of the Hoboken memorial, I suddenly heard a familiar voice say "Why are you sitting there all alone talking to yourself and looking so sad?"
It was a friend, and the mother of two young children. "Come," she smiled, putting her arm through mine, and calling for her little daughters to follow her. "Let's go home, and I'll tell you something cheery."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Well," she said, "let me tell you about the wonderful little children whose birthdays are on Sept. 11, the ones with hope in their faces, the ones who are the future."
We walked back on the river walk. As we made our way home, I looked over my shoulder at where the Twin Towers once stood, I thought for a moment I saw their shadows waving, like guardian parents long gone. Theirs were gestures of sadness yet encouragement to all the children of Sept. 11. - Pamela Ross
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