America Rose from The Rubble of 9/11

September 10, 2015
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TRT-EditorialPageTo Our Readers

We have moved on from the horror of 9/11, but the truth is, it will always have a lasting footprint on our lives. Fourteen years later, most people choke up at some point when discussing the day. It must have a much deeper impact on those orphaned by the terrorist attack that caused our tallest and proudest architectural triumph in the toughest city in the world to crumble. Most especially for someone like Rodney Wotton, whose father was killed in those attacks seven days before he was born. Think of that. Think of his mom, a brand new widow, giving birth. But then look to the good that Kevin Parks, whose father died in those attacks, as well, when he was a freshman at Red Bank Catholic. He and his best friend since RBC, Brian Morris, are on the Junior Board of Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit aimed at fostering long-term healing in families impacted by 9/11. He has befriended Rodney and has a supportive and mutual friendship with him, both sharing the same loss. They have both moved on. Think too about the everyday acts of kindness like that of Tony Bucco, a former Highlands councilman, who went to Connors Sea Streak dock to help the battered victims as they disembarked. 9/11, as mind-shattering as it was, never brought us to our knees. It was our Pearl Harbor, a national rallying call to unify and stand proudly together as Americans. And we did. Everyone still recalls where he or she was that fateful moment. I was on an airplane that had left Newark two hours before, which was rapid- ly brought to the ground in Milwaukee. I watched the towers fall from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newsroom and went to work. Under marshal law, I was unable to get home so I spent five days in Milwaukee helping with coverage and tossing out the agenda for an Associated Press national convention for which I was chair and had planned for 11 months, and reinventing one to address the critical new concerns of a drastically changed American landscape. The convention was more pertinent because of the attack. Our flight was the only one to leave Milwaukee the day I left and the only one to arrive in Philadelphia, an eerie feeling at best. I was traumatized but really only inconvenienced. The next day I rode what was left of the 1 and 9 subway to Columbia University to keep a promise to edit a book with the dean of the Journalism School. And then we went to the makeshift AP office high above the site and looked through the high-powered camera at the devastation. I watched the toughest woman I ever met in journalism fall to her knees and sob. I also watched her get back up with a little help and say, “How can we be most effective?” Take action. Let’s go. That’s America. An entire generation wanted to be police and firemen, inspired by the heroism they witnessed. A photograph by Tom Franklin, a dear friend, which depicted two firemen hoisting the flag amid the rubble, unified a country. While the towers were still burning, I was on a boat for my husband’s high school reunion that brought us to the Statue of Liberty, where we were stopped, of course. One person on the boat started singing “God Bless America” and in seconds, the entire boat joined in. It was a defining moment illustrating the strength of this country and its passion to be one, great community. Something no terrorist can ever take away from us. We stand together.

Let’s Have Coffee!

Jody Calendar

Executive Editor/Co-Publisher

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