I had artistic business in New York City. I was not nervous on the flight, but rather nervous with the idea of visiting Ground Zero. Would I do so? I thought about it long and hard and nursed a rather bad headache with the thought.
>Editor's Note: We received the following from local resident Silvia Scherer about her recent visit to New York City. We thought others might enjoy, reading it too. Silvia is the 21st Century Schools Site-Coordinator at Powell Butte Elementary School.
On approach the pilot said "Those of you on the right side of the plane can see Lower Manhattan. He said nothing more and knew he didn't have to. I was momentarily confused over the plane going this route so close to the city. It normally doesn't. Secondly, no one on the right side looked to see the smoke in the place of the once tallest buildings in North America. I challenged myself to look. I had to because I, at that moment, felt like an ambassador for Crook County.
As ambassador, I took quick note that it was Oct. 21, 2001. The site was still smoking. I gazed in an unexplainable awe and full of pity. I then remembered that picture circulating on the internet with Jesus above the Trade Center tower, in a cloud of smoke, extending his arms for the thousands of people heading his direction. I couldn't take my eyes off the site until the plane wing hid the view as we prepared for landing.
"Are you going to Ground Zero?" asked a colleague when I arrived at my destination sleep-place. I took an understandably deep breath and said yes, even though I wasn't sure. My headache persisted.
The next day I forced myself to the subway and headed downtown. I looked at the subway map and guessed where I would get off for Ground Zero. I made up my mind that if the smell was bad I would retreat.
Arriving, I walked around three sides of Ground Zero along the fence. There was an international feel of sorrow and warmth. Flowers, cards and candles clumped together and tended to by everyone. I saw a sign that said, "We love you NY, from the people of Oregon" next to a sign written in Russian words.
Some people wore masks as they walked by the site on the way to work.
Others like me, stood around trying to imprint the astonishing view. I overheard someone saying that the smell was getting worse every day. To me it smelled like wet concrete.
Ashes sprinkled from the sky on the east side of the site. It flowed quietly and landed on the black police uniforms guarding the site. Gray flakes contrasted on anything dark. I noticed this flake-like ash on my dark hair.
Across the street the windows on buildings carried the dust from the lost towers like cake frosting. Scrawled on this dust were the words "PEACE" and other soothing words, obviously written with the tip of a child's finger.
With my mind and camera recording the event. I wondered who would want to hear my impressions? I could barely express my own remorse as to what has happened to New York. Especially as I watched the trucks come through the gates filled with debris every five minutes. Oddly, my headache had gone away.
New York has changed. There was no honking from impatient vehicles. People were able to walk across the street without the fear of getting run over.
At every fire department door, police stations, and hospital walls, next to the missing pictures, were paintings, letters, beautiful poetry and short stories from young hearts, all remarking how Ground Zero should be called Ground Hero.
I asked my New York friends if they think NYC will come back to what it was before September 11. Their answer was that it has come back a little bit. That was from a twenty-three year old who already looked old.