A Look at Ground Zero
I've put up some pictorials of my visits to "hot spots" of recent history -- see my page on the Branch Davidians' Mount Carmel site and the Palm Beach County 2000 election protests -- but the spot that has focused the attention and emotions of the world to the greatest extent in recent years (and probably in my whole lifetime) is the "Ground Zero" site of the World Trade Center in New York City, where over 3000 people lost their lives in the tragic attack of September 11, 2001, including many police officers and fire fighters who were brave enough to rush into the buildings that everybody else was fleeing from. I went to the site about two months after the attack, and walked around the perimiter of the closed-off area where workers have been digging through the rubble nonstop.
Click on the small pictures here to see larger versions.
I went there before the viewing platform was built, so visibility of the damaged area was still limited. You could see the wreckage of ruined buildings in the distance, and some intact buildings were covered with huge screens to keep out the dust that was blowing from the rubble. The whole area had a characteristic odor that resembled that of the ashes where a fire had just burned itself out. Some sections had signs banning photography, apparently to preserve the privacy of those who are working to restore the infrastructure to the area -- one such place was a street just outside the perimiter which was being dug up by utility workers. I honored such restrictions whenever I saw the signs.
The extent of the destruction, even the limited view of it that could be seen from outside the perimiter, was horrifying as a sign of the magnitude of evil humankind is capable of. However, you could also see many signs of the good side of humanity in the sizable outpourings of love and support for the victims and their families that surrounded the site. All over -- in the yard of a church near the site, and along the fence surrounding the area -- there were signs, posters, greeting cards, dolls, stuffed animals, flowers, and other messages and items indicating that people all over the world care about the people who died in this tragedy. Before September 11, New Yorkers had a reputation of being callous and indifferent, but during and after these horrible events, they showed a much more positive side, and others elsewhere joined them in unity, putting aside whatever differences may otherwise divide them.
Messages of support at the site are in many different languages, and reflect many different cultures and religions, but they all show recognition of the value of human life and a determination to stand up against the value system of terrorists who would sacrifice others' lives to pursue their political or social goals.
I put this pictorial in the "Controversies" section of my site to be consistent with the other "hot-spot" pictorials, but for a change, I'm not out to stir up any controversy (a rare thing for me!). I know the spirit of unity won't last forever, and there are serious issues that can put good people on opposite sides -- like the debate about what extent liberty should be restricted in order to attempt to achieve security from future attacks -- but this page isn't seeking to start fights about that. There will be other times and places for it. Here, let's just take a moment to reflect on the best and worst of humanity as it has shown itself at Ground Zero.
On another site: This video makes a powerful statement about what the events of September 11th mean.
This page was first created 17 Mar 2002, and was last modified 21 Sep 2003.