Nineteen years ago 2,974 souls perished in the initial attack, on that fateful day, the 11th of September, 2001. Many including myself witnessed the attack, live on television. I remember sitting transfixed, watching the Twin Towers collapse and the explosive force of it propelling debris, smoke and ash covered people, down the streets of midtown Manhattan. I also saw police, firefighters and first responders, without hesitation, running towards the chaos, not away from it. Why did they do this? Why were these folks running up the stairs into the smoke and fire, while others streamed down the stairs to safety? A big part, you might say is their training, and that is an important part of it surely, but it is an innate sense for the value of life put into us by the Creator, that some chose not to ignore and rush into harm's way to save life, without thinking of their own. It is a love for life and their fellow man that motivates them to step into the breach. The bible tells us: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (Jn15:3) How much more so for strangers?
In the midst of such tragedy and destruction New Yorkers turned to the Church and God for solace, comfort and for answers. Churches were packed and even Yankee stadium was filled to capacity for an interfaith service. Prayers were offered up to God for mercy, grace and peace for those lost and left behind that day.
The search, rescue and recovery effort was monumental. The search for those still alive and those lost in tons of rubble continued 24/7. Many braved the threat of imminent danger from the collapsing rubble and breathing in and absorbing the toxic brew of chemical pollutants that insidiously haunted the site, which in time, would claim even more victims.
Fires continued to burn 99 days after the attack as 108,000 truck loads of rubble were hauled away. Over 1.8 million tons of debris were removed from Ground Zero to an off site landfill.
One half of the World Trade Center sight was dedicated to a National Museum and Memorial, set within the footprints of the Twin Towers that fell on 9/11. On November 3, 2014, One World Trade Center officially opened for business.
Each year thousands gather at the site of "Ground Zero," To remember, and grieve the loss of family and friends taken from us prematurely. All 2,974 names are read aloud and a bell tolls for each one lost that day. Why do New Yorkers still do this? Because they know the value of life , each life matters and had a purpose in being. We are all made in the image of God.
Fast forward 19 years, New York is recovering from a pandemic that took the lives of 23,739, almost 10 fold to those lost on 9/11. This is not the same city that responded to 9/11. What happened? One thing that was the same, was how health care workers reported for work every day, saddled with inadequate resources to safely treat the massive surge of sick patients flooding the hospitals city wide. Many came out of retirement or volunteered their professional services exposing themselves to a virulent invisible virus that rampaged through the city, despite the known and unknown risks, they were taking with their lives. Their motivation was the same as the first responders rushing into burning buildings. Thank God, we still have such selfless people.
There is a difference in the New York City of 2001 and the "New York," of 19 years later. Instead of opening churches for folks to worship and pray they were deemed non-essential and closed. The mayor threatened to close permanently any church or synagogue that dared to do so. Over one-million people lost their jobs and businesses in the restaurant sector alone, due to government shutdown mandates. It is speculated that 2/3 of the small businesses will never return.
Samaritan's Purse a Christian faith based organization, set up an intensive care field hospital to help care for the sick, were discouraged from opening another facility, because they were deemed to be homophobic by the mayor and city council. They were summarily asked to leave with no thanks for the great selfless work they had performed at the behest of Mount Sinai Hospital and the people of New York. No discrimination took took place nor has Samaritan's Purse ever discriminated on the basis of sex, race or national origin. In addition Hospitals who recruited out of state professionals to relieve doctors, nurses and other exhausted health care workers were told that they would indeed have to dock NY State income tax for any stipend paid out for services.
Then in the midst of the pandemic came the rioting and looting because of an incident in Minnesota. The very police and first responders were now considered pariah's and racist, when only 19 years ago were hailed as selfless heroes. Police were held back from doing their job while being assaulted. They then suffered the embarrassment of having their department defunded, personal lawsuits and job loss. Meanwhile the streets became lawless and more businesses were destroyed adding to the economic toll of the pandemic. Additionally, 75% of the deaths from the Covid-19 virus was attributed to the governor's mandate that all Nursing Homes had to accept Covid positive patients, for whom they are not equipped to handle. The disease spread and more people died.
The big difference is in the leadership of the people, a stark contrast exists between Governor Pataki ,Mayor Giuliani and Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. The former had a love and respect for life, people and governed as such. The latter do not. Political ideology rules . The respect for people's livelihoods, spiritual well being and their very lives falls to the wayside in favor of identity politics. New York state has the most egregious abortion policy and joyfully celebrates it, shamelessly. Even on September 11th, nineteen years later this Mayor would not allow the public 9/11 service to take place. Fortunately there was a huge push back and the lost were remembered, as they should have been.
So are there still good people left in NYC ? Of course there are, perhaps many lost their way in the ideological politics of the left and now have been awakened by the consequences. Which New York City do you want to live in? The present day chaos or the city as it was 19 years ago? Our God is a God of order, chaos is a sign of the evil one. It is up to the good people of New York to restore law and order to the streets. They need to elect leaders who value peoples work and their right to feed and support their families, unencumbered by fear and lawlessness. It all boils down to, fearing God and loving the gift of life from our Creator.
Which city will stand, the NYC of 2001 or the the NYC of 2020? The choice is simple, order or chaos.