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We're all trying to forget and remember at the same time. Related Gully Coverage

Watching the Twin Towers Fall
The devastation and its possible impact.

New York Faces Terror
Fleeing a gigantic ball of black ash and fire.

WTC Attack
Complete guide includes info on Afghanistan and the Taliban.

NYC
Complete New York City coverage.


A Sept. 15 photo shows a New York City fireman calling for more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center. Preston Keres

This So-Called War

by Kelly Cogswell

NEW YORK CITY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2001. Fires are still smoldering in the rubble of the World Trade Center. When the wind changes, if you are near enough, you inhale smoke, cement dust, and the scent of burned plastic. Rescue workers choke in it every second as they remove the steel mangled together with flesh.

If you're a New Yorker, especially living in downtown Manhattan, it's a horrible reminder. We're all trying to forget and remember at the same time. You have to forget enough to function, to be able to get to the grocery and back without crying, to get through a day of work, but you don't want this horrible thing to be only a blip on the national consciousness like the USS Cole. You want each of the dead to be mourned individually. You want justice. You want change--real national security and a smart foreign policy that doesn't leave the red rings of a target around our city.

What most of us don't want is more carnage. Maybe it would be different if the blame were clear, and there was something to bomb that would prevent this from ever happening again. But there isn't. A nation didn't attack us. Terrorists did. They have no borders, capitals, stockpiles, armies in uniforms that a couple of Skuds could wipe out.

Attacking Osama bin Laden's hoteliers seems redundant, a mere inconvenience for the elite Taliban. The ordinary person in Afghanistan is already abjectly poor. After a couple of civil wars there's hardly any infrastructure left to target. The only thing left to take is their lives, which their leaders already toss away like garbage.

In New York, we are sick of wasted lives. The checkpoints are gone, but cars are slow to trickle back into the neighborhood. The restaurants are only half-full. We are eerily polite. I have made my peace with the tourists a few blocks west that come with their Hard Rock Cafe tee shirts and video cameras. They climb up on fire hydrants and shoot the smoke, then buy postcards of burning buildings and more tee shirts saying "I Survived the Attack on America." We all do what we must to understand.

The usuals are back on the handball courts, but their shouts are muted, especially when the wind shifts.

For Watching the Twin Towers Fall

For New York Faces Terror

For Complete Coverage WTC Attack

For Complete Coverage New York City

In Depth

WTC Attack
Guide to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on NYC and DC. Includes info on Afghanistan and the Taliban.

NYC
New York City news, opinion, and headlines. Dirty secrets and surprising treasures of the city.

Bush Plus
U.S. politics and the Bush administrationAll about the morass of U.S. politics, George W. Bush, Dems, Greens, GOPs, activists, silently irritated masses and global impact.

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