The PJ Tatler

From Ground Zero at midnight

On one side of the street there were bright lights – construction lights for the workers who were there in the middle of the night busy building at ground zero.  The construction zone is fenced in, but their efforts are visible through the mesh.  Though thousands of people gathered alongside it, they were not gazing at today’s ground zero, but faced away from the site mostly at anybody with a flag crazy enough to climb a street lamp or traffic signal. We sang the national anthem over and over again.  Shouts of U-S-A, U-S-A abounded.  The vast majority of the crowd would have been in primary school at the time of 9/11, and came down because they heard about Bin Landen’s death on facebook.  As they say, they were “pumped.”  But they were also a few old older folk who get their news in other ways and hadn’t yet gone to bed.  Those I spoke to amongst the growing crowds, packed in like sardines, didn’t have quite the same feeling as the youth gathered around us.  We had been in New York City on that horrible day and it changed us.  People in this town are often, if not most often, somehow connected with someone who died.  We came down to ground zero tonight to share our stories – again – looking for closure and hoping to untwist the knot deep inside us.  But I could not help gazing at our backside, the building zone, and remembering the heaps of twisted metal that I had seen there almost ten years earlier. I couldn’t sing the anthem without welling up.  The crowd chanted “yes, we did” and “bring them home” and flashed hastily-made signs like “Obama 1, Osama 0.”  The evident pride in this country is a reason for hope, but I left wondering if anything has been learnt.  And the knot is still there.