Bomb Squad trucks and sirens roared down Broadway for over half an hour. I peered out the window of my Midtown apartment to see crowds of people fleeing uptown. I sensed that something was terribly wrong. We all remember where we were on Sept 11, 2001. It is a day that has left an indelible mark in the memories of most Americans. Ten years later, I wanted to commemorate those who lost their lives that day—as well as those who work tirelessly to ensure that an attack of this magnitude never occurs again.
Two days after the original towers fell, I recall seeing firefighters riding in a flatbed pickup truck from ground zero covered head to toe in dust. At the sight, every pedestrian on the street immediately stopped what they were doing to applaud the passing heros. For weeks, the smell of asbestos filled the air of Manhattan; it was difficult to stay outdoors without our eyes and lungs burning.
Not only are the structures impressive but so too is the energy that surrounds them. Tourists from every nation come to see this impressive architectural feat. As the wounds are still healing in the American heart, these new towers have become a symbol of restoration. Regardless of your stance on America's efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the WTC reconstruction is a testament to the resilience and determination of the American people. Our story has always been one of conviction and hope. This case is no exception.
In an age of anti-American skepticism, it's trendy to believe that fear of radical ideology derives solely from the West. But the problem is much deeper than this. Individuals from all religions, cultures, and beliefs have been victims of cowardly acts of terror.
As I began thinking globally about those who have experienced extreme grief as a result of terrorism, I came across an organization called The Global Survivors Network. GSN's mission is to give a voice to these victims; encouraging them to channel their grief in order to confront hatred. By sharing their stories and experiences, they are able to educate others about the consequences of violence stemming from extreme ideology. I was very moved by GSN's trailer for their upcoming new documentary, "Killing In The Name," which sheds light on issues that aren't often given attention.
As I was sketching at Ground Zero earlier this week, a passing journalist asked me if the sight of the new towers brought about sadness as a remembrance of that day. I explained that 9/11 was a tragic event—which I hope never happens again—but life is filled with unfortunate, unexplainable circumstances. What matters is how we respond and rebuild after the dust settles.