It was a Saturday and the bus was ordered, all the money was collected, and no one was cancelling, so we went. It is a wonderful zoo set in acres and acres of an English landscape garden site. I had gone there many times with my children and school children. It is not the San Diego Zoo, which has the reputation of the best zoo in the world, and I will not argue with that. The Bronx Zoo can be described in many ways, but that day, about a month after the attack on 9/11, it was somber. Yes, there were children and families there viewing the habitats, picnicking , but even the children were subdued and quiet. And it was not crowded as on all the other times I had visited. I did call my husband to check the news as I thought if there was something terrible that happened, we would not know. Your mind begins to think of terrible things because of the terrible things that had happened. All was quiet on the news.
Several weeks later, David and I went to New York because we had bought Off-Broadway season tickets earlier in the summer and it was time for the first play. This was our first trip into the city after 9/11. The Bronx Zoo is in New York but in the burrow of the Bronx. As we were walking around Manhattan, something seemed very different….and it was the quiet…everywhere. In the city that never sleeps there had always been noise, of people talking, walking , arguing, horns beeping, and cabs screeching down the streets. Now, there were people on the streets, all quietly walking or talking in a soft voice. There were no horns honking. It was the quiet of death or shock or a little of both. We walked on quietly , too. The city was in shock as were the people walking the streets.
We soon drew near a crowd standing in two lines from a fire station to the street. Soon we saw a firetruck beginning to back into the station. There are lots of small neighborhood stations throughout the city. They are narrow in width often only the width + extra for one or two trucks. to park. After they return from a call, they back into the the parking place, facing out to the street , ready to go on a moment’s notice. First, we noticed the black mourning wreath on the front of the engine.
Next we saw the shrine of remembrance of fallen heroes.
Just as the truck began backing into the firehouse, one person, then two until all the people beside the moving truck began clapping in a somber cadence. Thanking the brave, selfless firemen, remembering the fallen , thanking the living. After the truck was back in the station, David and I walked on, neither speaking. I couldn’t because I was silently crying. My family always teases me about my tender heart being touched to tears by just about anything. I figured David would say” Don’t be a crybaby”, but instead I heard a big snuff from him as we moved down the street. Seeing the sophisticated, often hard New Yorkers showing authentic appreciation and not bothering that they could be seen ..was indeed touching. As we walked on towards the theater, we noticed something else unusual. There were flags waving from most every building we passed. Again the urbane New Yorkers were not known for their patriotism. We had never seen that before. Indeed another show of appreciation of what America is built on …..Freedom, democracy, the constitution…government by and for the people.
Thinking of something to take away from this time in history, my thoughts are that I don’t know why or how all this happened and what could have done differently. But what I will take away is that life is very fragile and fleeting, and precious, and it can be taken away or changed forever in an instant. We never know when we get up each morning. We only have, however fleeting, the choice of how we use this life.
Namaste. . .. . .This Is the Aftermath of 9/11 in Our World