"The city streets were, indeed, unnaturally quiet that day, but it was quietness, not extinction. There was grace, an endurance, in the silence of those streets and of the country beyond them." - New York Times Editorial, September 11, 2002.
While I did live in New York during September 11, 2001, I’d rather tell you a story about September 11, 2002.
My friend and co-worker, Anna and I just could not fathom going into work on the one year anniversary. So we headed to Central Park to relax and reflect. It was unusually windy that day, so windy it was knocking out the glass windows on the Time Warner building, which was under construction. Because of this, we heard tons of sirens coming from the west side of the park. Nervous of another attack, we called friends, but then were quickly assured it was only due to the glass windows falling. Then something rather magical happened. In the distance, we could hear Billy Joel’s song, “New York State of Mind” playing. We sat there and listened, looking at each other, wondering where it could be coming from. I turned to Anna with a revelation, “this is not a recording! This is really him singing live!” We shoved our blankets into our bags and ran as fast as we could towards the music…all the way from Sheeps Meadow to the Great Lawn. Mind you, it was a work day and too windy so we were one of few in the park that day. When we entered the empty lawn we saw all the way at the other end a huge stage with none other than Billy Joel at the piano. We ran up there, spread out our blankets and listened in total disbelief. It’s as if we were having our own private concert in the middle of Central Park in the middle of New York City! After Billy rehearsed a few times, then Meryl Streep came out and rehearsed a reading. We found out that it was in preparation of a September 11 Memorial Benefit that would be held later that evening. We were also told we were more than welcome to camp out so we could have front row seats. And that’s exactly what we did. We called a few friends to join us and later listened to the likes of a local boys choir sing and Michael Bloomberg give a speech. It was a beautiful way to spend the anniversary, paying tribute to all. It was truly an “Only in New York, kids, only in New York” moment.