I wanted Danielle, my eight-year-old granddaughter to see Rockefeller Plaza and Fifth Avenue lit up for Christmas. In December 2000, my daughter Robin, Danielle and I flew to New York. Armed with a camera, Danielle discovered New York in the winter: the taste of chestnuts, the music of a steel drum on the Staten Island ferry, the seagulls flying in the harbor, the New York subway. It was a lovely day, cold but crisp. We walked around Lower Manhattan; a visit to New York would not be complete without seeing the Twin Towers. We had lunch, then took the elevator to Floor 108, the observation deck.
On September 11, 2001, my daughter asked me to turn the TV on. I watched as the buildings collapsed. I watched the destruction of lives and achievements. I watched the courage of policemen, firemen, and strangers trying to help and was reminded of a time when nobody helped, and millions of people perished.
Sixty years later, people are still dying because of prejudice. We have not learned much from the past. I watched as the colored TV became black and white—or, rather, black and grey. What is worse, I saw pictures of bodies stacked up like firewood or watching two people holding hands and jumping to their death.
The destruction and the rubble reminded me of Bucurest [Bucharest], Roumania, where, at ten in the morning, there was a building with people living their lives, and, at ten fifteen, the building was destroyed, and strangers were searching for bodies.
(Jan. 10, 2008)