I have nothing good to say about the mass murders perpetrated on Sept. 11, 2001 and their aftermath. Were there extraordinary acts of bravery and generosity that day and in the weeks afterwards? Yes. Has New York recovered to an extent beyond the most optimistic predictions at the time? Yes. Nonetheless, there is a “before” Sept. 11 and there is an “after.” We may have healed and moved on, but our hearts remain a little bit broken.
That morning, I was at PS 321 in Park Slope. During that day, I visited the police command at the Brooklyn Bridge, a makeshift clinic at the Brooklyn Marriott, and some of the local schools. I thought about going to the Trade Center, as I had often gone to the scenes of fires and other incidents, but realized that I would only be in the way.
That weekend, my wife and I went to the pit, and handed out food to the workers. The next weeks were a blur of fire and police funerals, memorials and rallies. One of our neighbors had seen the firefighters from our local firehouse walking up the steps of a tower as he was walking down. I talked about how not all of us would have the courage to walk up into a burning building, but we could, when given a choice between helping ourselves and helping others, at least take one step up.
Yes, the city is a better place, and I find it gratifying that the image of the Middle East today is young people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, not a misanthropic terrorist thug, but all at a price we’d have been better not having had to pay.
Ken Fisher was a City Councilman representing Brooklyn Heights.