Nearly 3,000 people are said to have died 10 years ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, perhaps more if some first responder deaths are to be included.
That is brutal and sobering and tragic and heartbreaking.
TL;DR — Why I believe the pain of 9/11 helped shape NYC for the better.
- A long history exists between pain and strength.
- After 9/11, Americans embraced New York City as patriot territory.
- After the attacks, an even stronger NYC identity has developed.
- Following that day, NYC is now protected by more of a veil of patriotism than it perhaps has ever had.
- Why I wrote this: To argue that a dramatic shift in our national perspectives on NYC changed after 9/11 and it has largely benefited the city.
I grew up in northwest New Jersey, a rural enclave in the New York City region. Like many others there, my parents were from the city and arrived an hour west chasing suburban sprawl. Much of my family still lives in and around that city. They worked in and around the Twin Towers. A couple times a year, my parents would take my sister and me to Manhattan for nice dinners with family; I always wanted to play sandlot baseball or get lost in the woods instead.
I was a sophomore in high school sitting in English class that September Tuesday, but I don’t want to rehash my story. Plenty are doing that and, quite frankly, they are doing a better job of it than I can. Moreover, many people with whom I was in class had parents or other close family working there or near to the buildings. I didn’t, after some confirmation, so my personal story isn’t compelling.
Instead, I want to suggest what might be considered a rather unsettling thought, but I think it’s an important one.
That the most costly, most visual portion of the Sept. 11 attacks in lower Manhattan have, looking back at the last 10 years, been good for New York City.
People died. Real people. At a different time, my uncles, or cousin or sister could have very likely been in that number. Philosophy isn’t developed enough for us to understand why not. Very little is ever worth death. But, I believe, these attacks have propelled New York City to first city status among the few generations of Americans alive for 9/11 in a way that nothing else ever could.
I am not a resident of New York City. Never have been. The city was around me — literally and by means of familial roots, but, no, I wasn’t there that morning and know little of that moment. My arguments here rely most heavily on outside perception, so having roots and family there, but being distant enough to evaluate that perception is a strength, I believe.
Now let me tell you why the idea that something so painful could be beneficial is not only plausible, it is clear.