By Victoria Slater, ’12
Two years ago, on a chilled November night, I visited Ground Zero in New York City. At the time, I could just make out the base of what is now the new World Trade Center nestled in the dark abyss beyond me. Where the original World Trade Center once dominated the city skyline, there existed virtually nothing. Yet, the energy dwelling there on that winter’s night was enough to fill Ground Zero’s gaping hole with a mixed ambiance of despair, angst, power, wonder and love.
What occurred at that spot 10 years ago is beyond human comprehension It was destructive and despicable. It was also a complex demonstration of how the actions of a small few can affect so many. In retrospect, Sept. 11 is a genuine portrayal of resilience: empowering a city, a nation, a world to grow and flourish from fire and ash. Where death and destruction once shattered the globe, the tallest building in America, One World Trade Center‚ reigns in the sky. A waterfall flows. Flags ripple in the breeze. And life— joyous, sad and bittersweet — goes on.
Death is inevitable. Wars are relentless. Evil is invincible. Yet so also is life, love and virtue. Sept. 11 is just another illustration of humanity’s ability to thrive in the face of adversity.
In an interview conducted for the Spotlight story of this issue, English teacher Meridith Niekamp reflected on her visit to Ground Zero only a few months after 9/11. She told us that, there, she read the most poignant display of poetry she had ever seen.
“People had been writing poetry with their fingers in the dust on the buildings,” Niekamp said in the interview. “It was such a moving way to express your love for common man, leaving those messages of hope and love and grief in such a medium. And it was so powerful that it was in the dust of the wreckage.”
What touched me most about Niekamp’s story was her hope that the carpenters of the new World Trade Center will harness human’s strength— not combative strength, but innocent, natural strength— in their designs.
“That’s all we are on this planet,” Niekamp said. “It’s not about buildings and planes and bombs and money, it’s about people. That’s all we are.”
And our strength is our resilience: Our capability to transform ash into poetry, evil into good and death into a willingness to live and move forward each and every day.