NEW YORK CITY -- New York, New York, a wonderful town. The city is a study in "doubleness." The subway runs deep; the buildings scrape the sky. There's an east side and a west side, an uptown and a downtown, two rivers, two coastlines.
The towers were identical twins with an identical message of soaring assertiveness. The twin towers were symbiotic in death and destruction. If they had been human, we would have said one couldn't live without the other, so they tumbled down together.
On the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I joined friends on a sailboat on the Hudson to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of two of the passengers. We sailed under a clear blue sky like the morning that two airplanes sent plumes of human smoke and ashes into the air, rudely interrupting our sense of safety and security. In an instant, discussions about the end of history came to an end. History was still with us. It still is. It still will be.
The captain steered us around the Statue of Liberty, and all eyes were irresistibly drawn to that empty space in the skyline, like missing teeth in the smile of a beautiful woman. A passenger reminisced about the time when as a boy he climbed into the arm of Lady Liberty to see her torch up close. You can't do that now because her arm was weakened during all those years she welcomed Emma Lazarus' huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of another teeming shore. Her dignity remains as strong as ever, and the fire of freedom she holds high shines as bright as ever.
We disembarked at the financial district, and strolled to ground zero to observe and reflect. The neighborhood is coming back. Being born again hasn't been easy, not for a skyscraper, but the forms are taking shape. Two hollowed out granite walls are now hallowed monuments, standing exactly where the twin towers stood.
The walls will eventually embrace reflecting pools, and the soothing splash of waterfalls will replace the bang and buzz of hammers and cement mixers. White oak trees will dapple the landscape with flashes of green. The building to bear the address 1 World Trade Center rises from ashes to a height of 1,176 feet, 36 floors. They're already a third of the way.
It's a shame the media focus is mainly on angry disagreements over the future of ground zero. The neighborhood is alive with excitement and potential. Businesses are moving in. Residents number upwards of 60,000 already.
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