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James Makes A Sad Pilgrimage To Ground Zero

For years, we Americans have viewed terrorism as something that
happens to other countries. It has always seemed to be distant,
even those times that terrorists did strike American soil, such as
the bombing of La Guardia Airport in the 1970's, or when American
aircraft were hijacked or bombed.

Interestingly, September 11 felt similar to me. A major terrorist
attack happened in the United States, and I was in Hong Kong when
I found out. I was distant. It still didn't feel real. Even when
I heard of the people I had known who had died, it still felt remote.

I grew up in Maryland and New Jersey. From 1972 until I went to
Duke in 1978, I lived in Mendham, New Jersey. When I got my driver's
license, part of every day was taking my father to the train station
in Morris Plains. Every morning, I'd see the World Trade Center.
Every morning, my father would take the train to Hoboken, and take
PATH to the very same World Trade Center.

As I gained my freedom as a teenager, I grew to love New York City.

Two weekends ago, I flew home to see my parents after returning from China. Several years ago, my parents moved to Cape May, but I still
would fly into Newark. Even though I would often just head south
(or visit my property in Pennsylvania) seeing New York would never
fail to life my spirits. This time, I had to see myself what was
done to the city I love.

It took a while to get from the airport to the hotel to store
my luggage, and from there to the city. I took the 1 train
south to Chambers Street -- the last stop left in Manhattan now.
The barricades were there at Chambers Street, no one but the debris
removal crews were allowed closer.

You could only see some bright lights from Chambers Street, anyway.

So I walked over to Broadway and turned south along the western
boundary of the closed area. You could see the businesses long there
were suffering. One I noted in particular was an Indian restaurant
that had a sign in the window begging people to come in and eat.
There were easily 40 tables, and 2 people inside.

Walking down Broadway, you passed City Hall, and when you reached
St. Paul's Church at Vesey Street, you can see it. The most vivid
sites are from Dey Street, where you see the remnants of #5, and
through Liberty Park between Liberty and Cedar, where the remains
of the South Tower are still to be seen.

Seeing this, more than the pictures on the television in Hong Kong,
more than the e-mail telling me of people I knew who escaped, and
who did not escape, more than the heightened security, brought it
all home to me.

I took my pictures, starting at Cedar Street and walking north to
City Hall. I then just kept walking up Broadway until I reached
Columbus Circle. I needed to clear my head of the glimpse of hell
I had just seen.