We Will Go Back To
Life As Usual;
But We'll Never Forget
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
23, 2001 Day 13) Will it ever be the same?
optimist. Yes it will be the same; but we shall not forget.
The memory of that
day in September 2001 the eleventh will be indelibly etched in the memory of
all those old enough to understand and recorded in the history books for those too young
and those yet to be born. Americans . . . no
all mankind . . .will look back at that day and the attacks as one of the moments in
history where the hand of evil reached out across the abyss and sent shivers up and down
the spine of humanity.
A Towers American Flag in a
Bayside home window.
Photo: Tamara Hartman
The date, the
moment, the act will stand forever as a moment of horror and sadness to mankind and a
rallying cry for people of freedom
For New Yorkers, it
means a bit more. Our space was invaded. Our skyline altered forever. Our physical well
being, threatened. We know our safety is now at risk.
Will life ever again
be the same?
Sure it will.
I write this, not as
a political columnist sharing perceptions and knowledge to a perhaps less informed
readership. I write this as one of millions of New Yorkers and Americans who have
witnessed acts of terror against our nation and mankind and who joins hands with the rest
of our city and nation to rebuild and celebrate our strength together.
I write this because
Yesterday, Lil and I
attended the wedding of Tribune artist, our
webmistress, Julie Messina to her longtime hoohah Nelson Palacios. The Bayside couple had
a beautiful Saturday afternoon church ceremony and a loud, celebratory Saturday night
The wedding was not
unlike the many weddings of a variety of faiths weve all attended: moving, touching
and about love and marriage.
Yes, there were
those few words of prayer that were there because of the vicious acts of September 11:
For our world. to keep the promise of
peace, we pray to our Lord.
For our country, to keep the promise of
freedom, we pray to our Lord.
For our deceased loved ones, . . . and those
who lost their lives in the World Trade Center and other parts of the U.S. we pray to the
Yes, the ceremony
was altered just a bit, but basically everything was the same.
We drove to the
church, and later the affair, noticing nothing was changed on the pretty residential
streets, the commercial strips, the highways or the crowded residential blocks except for
the omnipresence of flags.
probably all Americans, are wearing their colors proudly.
Most homes, most
stores, most overpasses and many a car and signpost proudly boast the red, white and blue.
Lapel ribbons are becoming as stylish as Gap t-shirts in our fair City and nation
There is one change:
the flag is beginning to belong to all of us.
Let me explain.
Those of us who are
children of the sixties who lived through the Vietnam conflict, protesting our
nations military actions in Southeast Asia lost the flag to those that
favored the U.S. war effort. The doves, as we were known, abandoned the
symbolic flag and the war it represented to the hawks, who were more than
happy to embrace the flag and war. It was waved by them not us. And all these many
years later, they still claimed it.
Well perhaps the
flag no longer belongs to them. It belongs to all of us. No, Im not trying to take
it back; Im trying to claim our small share.
You can turn it into
ribbons; you can wear it; my daughter can make a peace sign out of it; you can put Towers
on it; you can do whatever you want with it its yours. Its ours.
Now, maybe the guys
on the right dont agree with our use of the flag. However, it seems before those
petty political arguments have merit, we are all Americans proud, united and
This worst act of
mankind in my lifetime has brought out the best in our city and country. I wonder whether
our new American brother and sisterhood will remain?
Also changed, our
attitude toward police. Although that change has evolved slowly since the sixties, when
the police mistreated us and our brothers and sisters on picket lines, our new-found
respect for them was reaffirmed. It doesnt mean we have forgotten Amadou Diallo,
Patrick Dorismond, Abner Luima and others wronged. It does mean that we have rediscovered
a new respect and recognition of the greatness in New Yorks finest.
And there too, our
differences seem to pale in comparison to our unity. Racial divides do not seem as deep.
And beneath, everyones skin seems to be red, white and blue.
And I am embarrassed
that it was not since my childhood that I admired firefighters. New Yorks Bravest
are just that.
And there is our
City of marvelous New Yorkers. Im proud to be one.
And Im proud
to be an American . . . and I hope that never changes.
Yes, things will
come back; but we shall never forget.
Sports came back
Although the opening
ceremonies of Friday nights Mets game was awe-inspiring, bringing many to tears, for
Mets fans, it was the outcome of the game that truly inspired hope.
During the wedding
celebration last night, those of us that took news breaks running into the bar or
checking web info phones were not looking for the latest deployment of American
troops, but for the score of the Mets game as they march on the comeback trail, inspiring
us all to have faith.
Sure the news
coverage has changed. The dailies, magazines and weeklies have most of their copy space
devoted to the tragedy and our response. Likewise, TV news has expanded coverage with
economic impact added to the mix.
But that too shall
change. The New York Primary Election, a runoff 14 days later, will receive coverage. Other news will begin to creep in. And slowly, as
long as our shores remain safe and our effort abroad effective, life will hobble back to
Sure the travel
industry is hurt. Itll take some serious airline security measures and a couple of
years, but that too will be back to the way it was.
We all must be part
of the recovery.
Im looking to
do what the Mayor asked me to do get back to life as usual.
Im doing my
part writing my column while watching football and baseball how American.
And Im not
selling stock. I can wait for recovery.
altering my lifestyle significantly.
Im going to
try to abandon at least for now purchasing any thing on the internet. Buying
in New York is the correct thing to do. Our small business community is what Queens and
much of the City is all about. We each can do our part.
For those of us
reluctant, for the moment, to spend much leisure time in Manhattan, eat out in Queens. We
have some marvelous restaurants. La Baraka in Little Neck for French Mediterranean; Café
on the Green in Bayside for Northern Italian; Elias Corner in Astoria for fish; the
Door in St. Albans for Caribbean; Jackson Heights for Latino; Astoria for Greek; Flushing
for Asian; theres Gebhardts and Niedersteins for German.
Queens offers the
finest in dining from the worlds cuisines. Eat out; its patriotic and fun.
Our country does
have some very serious days ahead. Protecting our homeland theres a new
concept for you and prosecuting a war against terrorism is sure to be
at the center of our lives for a long time to come.
We shall debate.
We shall disagree.
We shall criticize
and we shall shout.
We shall suffer
We shall not forget
the vile acts of September 11.
But above all, we
have rediscovered something lost in the sixties.
We are Americans.
We are proud and
We have a flag.
And we are not
required to agree.
And if we can all
remember that, maybe I dont want things to ever be the same again.
While Writing The Column
And as I sit at my
desk at home, keyboarding this into my computer, as usual, I have the TV on and the remote
by my side. But for the first time in 13 days Im not surfing the news coverage of
the Attack on America or America Fights Back. Im flipping
between the third game in the Mets series with Atlanta and the Giants football game. Both
stadiums seemed to be jam-packed with people. Its like every other beginning of
As it approaches 3
p.m., the broadcast of the prayer ceremonies at Yankee Stadium is added to my surfing.
But the channel
surfing is becoming more difficult. Late in the game, the Mets lead is holding as is the
Giants while Rudy, George, Schumer and the Clintons are entering to the singing of the
Battle Hymn of the Republic I pause to watch James Earl Jones introduce
the prayer service.
He says: What
we share as Americans and human beings is far greater than what divides us.
Oprah, speaking of
the lost: Their stories are our stories.
And they applauded
And on Fox, the
And the Mets game in
the ninth gets closer . . .
And CBS takes off
the Yankee Stadium prayer service and goes to the Jets Game.
ABC still airs the
service and our hero Rudy is speaking.
And the Mets with
one out away from victory still struggle.
replaces the Giants on Fox and Rudys still speaking.
And the Jets
pre-game show is filled with patriotism.
And the Braves tie
And New Yorks
St. Johns grad John Franco, wearing an FDNY cap in honor of the fallen firefighters,
comes in to get the third out. And the Mets are in extra innings.
leaders of all the major religions of the world pray together at Yankee Stadium.
And as the Boys and
Girls Choir of Harlem sings, Rudy and Bill Clinton and Hillary and Chuck Schumer and
thousands of others join hands and join in singing We Shall Overcome:
And we shall live in
peace someday, Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall live in peace someday.
And Governor George
Pataki addressed the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
And a Muslim leader
prays and declares his love for people of all faiths and condemns the terrorists defiling
his religion. We are Muslims; but we are Americans. Amen.
And the New York
Giants won today.
And Lee Greenwood
sang Proud To Be An American.
And sadly, in extra
innings, the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, after a valiant effort, didnt win today.
And the City of New
York, at Yankee Stadium, continued their remarkable comeback . . .
And the City of New
York won today.
And America won
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
Click Here For The Not 4 Publication Archives