A New York Moment...Buried Deep in Our Souls
My twin brother David and I were born 53 years ago this week. After Mother's
long and painful labor he began this life at 3:55 a.m., I arrived exactly
ten-minutes later. No matter the distance traveled, we have never been more
than ten-minutes apart. Twins are like that; watching out for one another,
protecting their loved ones -- standing tall, side by side -- together, always
In New York on a crystal clear Tuesday morning, while standing guard over our
liberty harbor, America's most recognizable twins were murdered, cut down
exactly twenty-three minutes apart. They were attacked from behind by
ruthless cowards and they fought valiantly to remain standing as long as
possible while countless New Yorkers ran for their lives.
On Tuesday afternoon I climbed up on my mountain bike and began traveling the
streets of our beloved Manhattan. Packing only a camera, cell phone and a
bottle of water, I went in search of a city I have never seen before. The
streets were empty of all traffic save the rescue vehicles which provided an
almost constant backdrop of speed and sirens. Every few minutes two F-16
fighter jets passed over head patrolling our avenues from an altitude of
perhaps 10,000 feet.
Police officers and uniformed SWAT team members armed
with machine guns stopped the occasional civilian car, checking
identification and purpose. By days end I had fallen more deeply in love with
Manhattan and the wonderful people in it. I could feel love and positive
energy from all corners of my travel. Even the officer with the machine gun
treated me with dignity and respect. We are all numbed, but unified.
As day two and three turns into day four New York Citians have begun settling
back into their busy lives. Our airports are opened with limited services. It
is estimated that better then 50% of our commuting work force is back on the
job. Schools north of 14th street are in session, the stock market will
reopen Monday morning. Mayor Giuliani is doing a remarkable job of pulling
this city together. His leadership has instilled confidence and reflects the
courage and discipline of all those who have stepped into the breach.
The police continue to investigate -- gratefully, uneventful bomb scares.
Remarkable precautions are being taken to protect our citizens. It is clear
that New Yorkers will not stand down to this enemy and our city is bathing in
the warmth of deeply spiritual love and service. Selfless assistance from
within each home and across the nation is the remarkable sign of this.
Everyone I know has been touched by this tragedy. I have spoken with two
friends specifically who witnessed the most graphic of events. Yes, they got
out alive, but not without emotional damage being inflicted. One pal has
been, for the past two days comforting his best friend's wife and little
girl. Their husband and daddy was apparently trapped in his office on the
105th floor. His little girl and wife spent Tuesday night screaming
hysterically at the television "Why...why?" Another woman has joined her
entire family in a desperate search for her cousin Terry. My next door
neighbor and his girlfriend are missing. My friend Deborah walked to the
Javits Center last night so that she could donate, to the needy rescuers, her
beloved Paul's clothing. They have a critical need for clean socks, T-shirts
and work clothes.
Thousands upon thousands of rescuers are working without sleep. Breathing and
digging and lifting and trudging through drifts of concrete and glass dust
particles. They are in an unrelenting search for survivors and the remains
of their beloved brother and sisters.
The freeway, like West Side Highway, has been transformed into one of many
vehicular staging areas. This speedway is now a ribbon of flashing red lights
stretching as far as the eye can see. Rescue wagons with crews from
everywhere sit poised waiting for the opportunity of joining in. Nearby on
Chelsea Pier, reporters, doctors and Red Cross workers join exhausted fire
fighters and police for rest and nourishment. They all wear matching uniforms
of white soot and grime.
Each and every face shares the same stone-like look
of resolve, compassion and heartache.
The fire houses in New York are adorned with hundreds of floral arrangements
accompanied by notes of love, sorrow and gratitude. Wednesday evening, The New Sun
publisher, Lese Dunton and I stopped into a fire station on West 58th
Street. We joined the many pedestrians compelled to pay respects. We spoke
briefly with the skeleton crew standing near the big doorway. We needed to
tell them that we love them and pray for their safety. Their tears were real
and humble and humbling.
This attack has turned our city into two New Yorks. The first located above
Canal Street, A town searching for a normal life. The community below Canal
where tourists once visited Wall Street, City Hall, One Police Plaza,
Tribeca, Battery Park City and the Twin Towers, now copes with the added
danger of mud and slime and cold weather deposited by a torrential
A large portion of "The Canyon of Heroes," which has for a
century celebrated Lindbergh, D-Day, space travel and world champion ball
players is but a crater filled with flood lights, death and undaunted heroes
risking their lives for our fallen heroes.
It was at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday that the wind shifted northward
eventually blanketing upper Manhattan with smoke. By 7:00 p.m. my throat
burned and my vision blurred with acidified tears. The stench lingered
through the night serving as a sober reminder of what lies buried deep,
within five million square feet of what was once The World Trade Center.
In the end, incomprehensible hatred fueled an inferno that melted our World
Trade Center down to the sea. Thousands of people have died, scores of
families are reeling with grief and millions of hearts have been broken
beyond repair. Still, from atop my mountain bike, I clearly detect the reborn
spirit of this indomitable people.
As we bury our loved ones deep in our
souls let this crucible tell the world that New York City's Twin Towers of
love will once again reach to the heavens.
by Don Owens