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was a clear night in New York City. Three weeks to the day after the
World Trade Center bombings, the fires were still burning. The smoke was
toxic and acrid and made me choke. It permeated my lungs and my
clothing, and I would taste it in the back of my throat for days. But it
did not matter. I did not
matter. The only thing that mattered was the landscape before me. It
consumed me and took control of me with magnetic force. I could focus on
nothing else. I stood at the edge of Ground Zero, one foot from where
the North Tower used to stand. I blinked and stared as what I saw
penetrated my being.
The scene was surreal. Mountains of rubble. Twisted, melted buildings. Debris the size of small homes dangling
precariously from the structures left standing. Cathedral-like outer
shells of the Towers’ lower floors, still standing, eerily backlit by
the array of work lights. An undulating ocean of debris, unrecognizable,
gnarled and twisted, charred, and seemingly endless. Where there was
once life, now only death and destruction. The deafening chorus of pile
drivers and cranes, bulldozers and dump trucks, performing their somber
tasks. The workers, so many of them, silent and reverent as if on sacred
ground, steadily doing what was required of them.
I stood transfixed, moving only my head and eyes to shift the view.
“There are more than three thousand people buried there,” I thought
to myself. “More than three
Among them, somewhere, is my friend Glenn Winuk, 40. A
volunteer fireman who worked as a lawyer only blocks away, Glenn left
the safety of his office to rush into
the World Trade Center to help others escape. He would never return. He
was such a good person: likeable, smart, warm and good-natured. I see him in my
mind’s eye, inside the burning Towers, helping others to safety
without thought for himself. I can almost hear the words he would have
spoken as he realized that the building was collapsing around him.
The events of September 11 replayed in my mind and my senses heightened
as I took in the aftermath. The devastation was far worse than anything
portrayed in the media. It was vast, incomprehensible in scale,
reminiscent of a nuclear holocaust in every detail. The cleanup ahead
seemed insurmountable, like trying to move a sand dune with tweezers.
“What kind of person conceives such a thing,” I thought to myself,
“and what does he hope to accomplish by the killing of innocent people
and the destruction of cities?” I shifted my gaze and it occurred to
me that the holy war we keep hearing about might simply be a rationale,
to disguise what in reality is the manifestation of evil on planet
Earth. For many Americans, evil has been a purely intellectual concept,
far removed from daily life. Now it has been made tangible on our front
doorstep. It is here, it is real and it is undeniable. It wants to erase
us from the planet. And it is not going away.
Ground Zero lingers as a monument to our complacency, to our false
belief that evil does not exist tangibly in this world, that we are
immune from it, and that we do not need to be vigilant and prepared to
deal with it.
There is an expansive field of energy rising from Ground Zero. It sweeps
you into it like a tidal wave and you cannot stop it. Within it, you
have no identity, only clear comprehension of what is at stake, and
absolute certainty about what must be done. Our mission is clear. It is
irrefutable. It is undeniable. There is nothing to study. There is nothing to debate. These forces of evil must be
stopped, or we all may perish. So
help us, God.
—Scott L. Bach