Monday. Sept. 10, 2001 was painfully punctuated by chilly rain that did not let up until late in the evening. The following day dawned clear and cloudless and the washed-clean morning air held the promise of pleasant warmth. Good weather can boost voter participation, so poll workers anticipated a good turnout for the citywide primary election. All over the borough and the city we were getting up, having coffee, getting ready to meet the morning.
It would never be a warm, sunny, ordinary day again.
For the rest of our lives we will remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news that first one passenger jet and then another had deliberately crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, where we were when we heard that another passenger aircraft had slammed into the Pentagon, the heart of the nation's defense command, where we were when we learned that a fourth aircraft had crashed into a field in Western Pennsylvania after passengers wrested control of it from the hijackers who sought to destroy another target in Washington, D.C. We will always remember where we were when we heard that first one tower and then the other had collapsed, that 23 New York City police officers, 37 of their Port Authority counterparts and 343 firefighters died trying to save the civilians who had started that ordinary day in their ordinary way, by going to work and doing their jobs. Even if we knew none of them personally, or even peripherally, we will carry the memory of those who perished that day in our hearts forever.
We are continuing to heal. Ground Zero is beginning to look more like a construction site than a desolate moonscape at the bottom of a concrete-rimmed hole in the ground. Slowly but surely, Lower Manhattan is beginning to come back. Law firms, banking enterprises, small businesses are returning to the Financial District and families are giving Battery Park City and other housing complexes new life.
Echoes of 9/11 still haunt us. Two New York City firefighters assigned to Engine Company 258 in Long Island City were severely injured in a construction accident at the abandoned Deutsche Bank Building, where two of their brother firefighters had died battling a blaze only a few days before. Human remains are still being found in the vicinity of Ground Zero. First responders and civilian rescuers and construction workers who toiled on the heap of smoldering rubble known as "The Pile" are suffering from health problems strongly believed to be related to their breathing air laden with contaminants. And terrorist incidents in Madrid and London believed to be the work of followers of the band of militants responsible for 9/11 brought death and injury to other innocent civilians. Only weeks ago plots by more militants and fanatics were foiled in Germany and the Netherlands. Truly, "For still our ancient foe/Doth seek to work us woe" as a line from the hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God", maintains.
Yesterday was a day to remember those we lost. The pain of the taking of their innocent lives will always be with us. On the sixth anniversary of 9/11, we look back in sorrow, but we look forward with pride and hope that will never be extinguished. We prevailed then. We prevail now, and we will prevail forever.