I Have to Be Here

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09/11/2011

Neighborhood: Across the River

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My mother doesn’t get why I have to be here for the anniversary of September 11th. In late August of this year, I was leaving our family beach house at the Jersey Shore and Mom asked if I was planning a return visit in September.

“Yeah, I’ll be back,” I said. “Probably the third weekend, definitely not the weekend of September 11. I have to be in the City then.”

“Oh,” she said, surprised. “ I thought you’d want to be out of New York on that date. They’re threatening another attack on the anniversary.”

Actually, I hadn’t heard that but it was hardly news.

“I need to be in the City to attend the services,” I said, referring to upcoming events at my church and my yoga center. I also planned to rejoin my neighbors on the roof that morning. “Even if they did attack again, I’d want to be in the City “ I added defiantly.

I recalled friends who were out of town on that Tuesday ten years ago and they were distraught. They couldn’t wait to come back and offer assistance. I was fielding their emails as I made pit stops to my apartment from my new post on the West Side Highway. I had joined the crowds cheering the rescue workers, a job I ended up doing for month (and writing about for this site) To this day, I think my presence on the highway was one of the most meaningful acts I’ve done in my life.

If New York City got attacked again, I could not imagine being in New Jersey, my home state, watching this on television. I’d go crazy. The events of September 11th deepened my love of this incredible City I’ve called home for most of my adult life. I’ve lived her since 1975 and have never felt prouder to be a New Yorker than in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

I know my elderly mother just wants me to be safe, but I will not let a gang of sick fanatics dictate how I run my life and where I live, not even for a weekend. Yes, I will be in Manhattan on September 11, 2011. I’ll pray at my church, chant at the yoga center, and return to Point Thank You on the highway to wave my flag one more time.

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