To the editor:
When I used to pass the World Trade Center at night, I would always be sure to look at the red beacon flashing atop the tower.
That, I would remind myself, represents the best within us. The culmination of endless hours spent at infinite tasks over the course of centuries to bring us to the point where we can flash that beacon against an unyielding sky, as if to say that we as a people and a nation rise against even the very force of gravity.
That beacon, I told myself, was the very pulse of America. And so long as it beat, so would our country and freedom be sustained.
My anguish was refreshed anew when I realized that that beacon now lies in rubble, indistinguishable from the ruins.
Moments later, however, I realized something else. While that beacon may be destroyed, the heartbeat of our country goes on.
That heartbeat lies in our rights, our freedoms, and our unquenchable fighting spirit. Those towers represented what we as a nation can do. They were only the effect, not the cause.
In the eyes of those that I passed yesterday in the streets of New York, I saw focus, resilience and commitment first to help those in need, to then punish those responsible, and finally to resume their lives.
In this country, each of us stands on the shoulders of giants. As we ride the train to work, use our phones and eat our food, we do so with such great ease because of those who have come before us — men of intransigent spirit and unyielding will.
This intransigence will now be found in all of us.
As the pain subsides, we will all realize that we have a newfound respect for our lives. A desire to make the most of them. To be our bravest our strongest, our smartest, and most productive of all times.
We are a nation of warriors. We fight to educate ourselves. To get good jobs. To improve our lot in life. To help our friends. To raise our children. To build, to create, and one day to become giants ourselves. That is the cause. That is the best within us.
Sept. 11, 2001, will be remembered as the day when a nation shook, and when a generation was reborn.
As we reflect on what has happened and plan for what is to come, I leave you with this most comforting of thoughts. Somewhere in America today, there is someone — an architect, a real estate developer, or just a dreamer — who is looking at the site of the World Trade Center, and envisioning what we can build their next.
— Originally published Oct. 11, 2001