Oct 25, 2011

We will prevail: thoughts from the tip of Manhattan

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting the 9-11 Memorial in New York City. I had visited the area a few years ago, when there was only a gaping gash in the earth. Many years before that, I had visited the top floor with my young children, all of us marveling at the view from on high.

At the memorial, the names of the victims - including those in the towers, in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and those killed in the original attack of 1993 - are inscribed on huge plaques bordering two square, deep pools. Waterfalls rush down the sides of the pools and drain out, signifying the lives lost. So many names... People were inserting photos, rosaries, personal notes, American flags, flowers into the inscribed names.

Yet all around us there was building, life, activity. Several skyscrapers are being built around the memorial site, and there will be a museum at the site too. The juxtaposition between the forces of destruction and the forces of optimism could not be lost on anyone.

A few blocks away, I wandered by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. News footage usually shows the youngsters in the group, but I observed many seniors and middle-aged men and women demonstrating alongside them. Now, you may agree or disagree with the group's aims or methods. But what struck me at that moment is that both their efforts, and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, are made possible because of our fundamental American values. We are a democracy, with all the messiness, discord - and optimism - that goes with it.  And that's why we will  prevail.

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