Making Sense of it All

Garret Woodward

Sitting in front of the New York Public Library this past weekend, I began to observe my surroundings. There were interesting people all around, harmonious music filling the ear of all who listened from a nearby corner, and the bluest of skies above me that made me feel as if I were in some island paradise. New York City is full of these magical things which reach into the deepest depths of our soul and dissolve our every worry and every problem.

As I further looked around, I realized that today was the three-year anniversary of 9/11. I will never forget, like all of us, where I was on that fateful day. My social studies teacher was getting the class ready for the quiz when my principal walked in and pulled her aside. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw the astonished look on my teacher’s face as he whispered to her. He left, and she told us what had happened. We were all in shock, because it just seemed so unreal that something like that could have occurred in our own backyard. My mind raced a million miles an hour with thoughts of who, what, where, when, why, and how? The only television in the room was this old one that looked like a prop from Happy Days. Of course, the antenna didn’t work, so we had to set it down on the floor and tilt it with two books to get reception. None of us could comprehend what was going on. The whole day our eyes were glued to the screen. Eventually, we had to go home. I left school, changed forever.

So here I am, a little older, and a little wiser, walking around the city I saw in ruins on that old television those three years ago. I start heading down towards Rockefeller Center, when I am suddenly in awe of the dozens upon dozens of American flags that were put up all around the ice rink in remembrance of those lost. I wandered around and saw hundreds of people sitting around the rink, talking, eating, playing cards, or just plain resting. The vibrancy of the city wrapped around me like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. I asked a few people what they thought of this day, three years later. Some said the optimism of the city shows just how resilient New Yorkers and their beloved city are and have always been. Others felt that such a beautiful day was bittersweet when you think of what was lost, and how it affected the whole world. I listened to what these people had to say, and their words echoed in me a feeling that “everything has changed, nothing has changed.” I stood there, trying to make sense of what I had seen and heard. I then turned and saw a couple holding each other and kissing under the American flag- I got my answer.