Let’s Stop Calling It Ground Zero

by Bill Brenner on September 19, 2011

I’ve written a lot about 9-11 in this blog. How could I avoid it? Nothing has fueled the fear, anxiety and depression of a nation like that terrible day. Whenever I’m here, I visit Ground Zero.

Part of it is a need to pay my respects to all who died there. Some of it is an obsessive-compulsive impulse. A lot of it is that whenever I see the construction workers hauling ass down there, it inspires me.

Mood music:

I’m here for my company’s annual Security Standard event in Brooklyn. Before setting my sights on the work at hand, I dumped my luggage and sprinted over the Brooklyn Bridge to Lower Manhattan.

Last year at this time, you couldn’t really see the scene taking shape at the WTC site from the bridge. Now you can. Walking over the bridge and looking to the left, there it is, rising up like a middle finger in the Manhattan sky:

One World Trade Center is taking shape. They’ve made major progress on it since I was here last September.

We’ve all been calling this Ground Zero since 9-11, but I don’t think it’s appropriate any longer. Too much life has returned to this place to keep calling it that.

I find the site extremely symbolic of the human condition at the heart of this blog.

We go through parts of our lives walking tall and feeling indestructible, just like we once thought the Twin Towers were impervious to life’s cruel twists of fate. Then something unexpected happens and we end up in ruins.

Then we have a choice to rise from the ashes and start over, or just go away.

I’d like to think I rose from the ashes of my earlier years. Crohn’s Disease and mental illness have taken their best shots at me and I’ve been reduced to rubble more than once. But I got up and I’m still standing.

I’m no special case. We all take our blows and most of us get back up.

Terrorists took their best shot and knocked those buildings to the ground, snuffing out thousands of precious souls in the process. But this city got back up and started over. Now new buildings are rising up, hopefully stronger than what was there before.

It’s like that Metallica song. We rise, we fall, we’re down and we rise again.

Perhaps I have a hyperbolic brain. But when I visit this place, that’s how it makes me feel.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nick September 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

Hi Bill,

I usually love your posts, but I have to radically disagree with this one. I’m a firefighter; I lost friends at ground zero. I also have many FDNY friends who lost many friends and colleagues that day; and many more have died as a result of illnesses from working the pile for the 9 months afterward. No, I agree that we must heal and move on, but for me and most of the fire service friends I know, the site will forever be “Ground Zero”.

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