The Twin Towers, after sixteen Septembers

View of World Trade Center site, through 9/11 Memorial walls in Jersey City, 2017. Photo by Linda Stamato
View of World Trade Center site, through 9/11 Memorial walls in Jersey City, 2017. Photo by Linda Stamato
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By Linda Stamato
 
So many have written and captured images and recollections of Sept. 11, 2001, often with soaring eloquence, but Nuala O’Faolain, an Irish writer, a foreign witness in our land, provides what I cherish, in words as simple as they are compelling.
 
She tells us in Almost There, that the twin towers were “her familiars” when she occupied rooms on the 17th floor of an apartment building in Greenwich Village, on the southwest corner of Washington Square:
 
“They may have been bland to people who only glanced at them, or peered up at them from below, but I knew them as my neighbors; I knew them adrift with clouds, and I knew them with their city of windows gleaming through evening rain and I knew them dull with cold in their iron weather before snow breaks out.”
 
And, then, they were no more.
 
St. Joseph's Shrine in Stirling memorializes 9/11 victims. Photo by Linda Stamato
St. Joseph’s Shrine in Stirling memorializes 9/11 victims. Photo by Linda Stamato

The towers have been supplanted but they have not been replaced.  Their absence has led to a greater appreciation of what buildings, like monuments, can come to mean. It’s rare for buildings to capture the spirit and courage of a people but these surely do, now. 

 
The twin towers are brave people fighting to live and others trying, desperately, to save them, some losing their own lives or compromising what time they had left.
 
The twin towers are the nation’s sadness and rage, to be sure, and they are also a loss of innocence, a new awareness of vulnerability, the shattering of the illusion of superiority, the ebbing of security in the face of danger. But they are so much more.
 
The towers have become more than the structures that were destroyed. They symbolize an experience so compelling that they impose meaning and order and hope for a nation and its people. They are no longer towers of trade but of courage, resilience, determination and promise. 
 
Linda Stamato lives in Morristown’s  Franklin Corners neighborhood,  and is a faculty member at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.
 
St. Joseph's Shrine memorial to 9/11 victims, in Stirling. Photo by Linda Stamato
St. Joseph’s Shrine memorial to 9/11 victims, in Stirling. Photo by Linda Stamato
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