The tributes and memorials started weeks ago with the opening of World Trade Center (the movie). The past few days saw several movies and documentaries bringing us back to that fateful day in 2001, and taking us through a journey to the present day. We’ve seen the heroes, the grieving relatives who frantically searched for their missing loved ones, the progress made in identifying and bringing the people who were responsible to justice, how those who survived have fared since then.
It has been five years but you can still feel the deep sense of grief. I feel it.
I remember in the days after 9/11, there were corridors in Grand Central with leaflets and posters of people missing. You could see them smiling, celebrating weddings, full of promise, hope and life. You cannot help but be moved. A rose here and there, a bouquet.. in other similar areas there were even candles. Such a sense of loss.
I was working in the Wall Street area then and had been allowed to return to work a week later — the stench of burning plastic and rubber wafted through down the blocks to the Hudson River. It pervaded the air for weeks and weeks.. We were moving on to winter in December when the smell started to die down. It was colder, but the recovery efforts never abated and were continuing.
New York has moved on in the past five years, but the wound has never totally healed. So many deaths — such destruction.
It was not just a loss of thousands of life but livelihood as well. For months, businesses in the downtown area suffered. Cordoned off from regular traffic, regular residents having been requested to leave the immediate area, many businesses folded and never quite recovered. In the Southstreet Seaport alone, big business caved in and withdrew. Openings were cancelled.
But Downtown has recovered. It cannot, however, forget that life-changing event five years ago. We, in New York, will never forget. Specially those of us who experienced it firsthand in 2001.