Recovery did not run smoothly. There were arguments, conflicts and delays. There has not always been a unity of purpose among the architects, government agencies, insurers, developers, families of victims and survivors about how what happened should be remembered. Often it seems as if the twin towers were transformed into Towers of Babel, with a cacophony of voices demanding different memorials of remembrance and revival. Creative reconstruction was difficult.
But like the ancient Phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction to celebrate rebirth, 1 World Trade Center emerges triumphantly from the rubble at Ground Zero. After a decade of mourning, we come together at the end of this week to acknowledge beauty, commerce and an assertive spirit, testimony to healing, survival and renewal on the rubble.
The 10th anniversary celebrates a new skyscraper that that will offer panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, reminders of the first stop in the new land for many immigrants fleeing tyranny in search of freedom and opportunity. Two pools of water set in the footprints of the fallen towers are called "Reflecting Absence," in haunting evocation of the memory of those who died there. Their names will be inscribed in bronze. A pear tree recovered from the debris was replanted and grows in fresh, fertile soil.
None who watched the horror unfolding on television can forget the fear and loathing we felt at that moment, and it's impossible not to marvel today at the recovery. For all of the griping and grumbling at the long security lines at airports, it's not unusual for a gentle internal voice to remind an angry traveler that any one of those who died on 9/11 would be happy to take off his shoes and jacket for examination in return for a life.