Happy Thanksgiving.......

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    Giving Thanks
    11/22/01

    "We must cherish what we have. On this Thanksgiving stained with sorrow, we must cherish the people we love and the great, tough city in which we live. There will be empty chairs at too many New York tables today. There are too many wounds that might never heal. But we who live can still whisper our
    thanks............

    We must toast on this Thanksgiving and all that will follow those men and women who ran into the buildings of the World Trade Center while others ran out. When the messengers of death arrived in their captive airplanes, those New Yorkers arrived as the infantry of life. They had one mission: to help other humans reach the cleansing air. They could not save everybody. But they did save thousands, and died doing their difficult jobs.
    They were the very best of us. Toast them today. Give thanks to them, now and forever.....

    New York City's skyline has been forever changed ...

    Raise a glass, too, in the name of all those anonymous people who helped strangers. Who wiped the ash from their eyes on New York streets. Who rushed them from the opaque cloud that was rolling at them when the towers collapsed. Who gave them drink. Who put arms around them and guided them to refuge.........

    Toast all those Americans who arrived from distant places, from Indianapolis and Poughkeepsie and Chicago, who climbed into cars and pickup trucks and drove all the way. To help New Yorkers. To help firefighters and cops and doctors........

    Thank those people who carried their ironworker's tools in leathery bags to start cutting steel. Who set up kitchens, and dispensed food and water and coffee, and large vats of gumbo from Louisiana, and said, in effect: We are with you. We are with New York. You are us........

    Thank them: Thank the Mayor, too, for his extraordinary performance in the face of calamity; thank all those reporters and photographers who covered this event without contributing a sentence to the history of human lousiness...........

    ... but on this holiday we should give thanks for the symbols of freedom and compassion that remain, both old and new...

    Thank those ordinary New Yorkers who refused to be cowed by fanatics, who absorbed the great gash in the city's psyche and then got on with their work and their lives. Thank all those New Yorkers who created the altars that adorned our firehouses and police stations and public squares, for they made something beautiful in an ugly time. They all understood that anger without sorrow was not our style....

    And then, when we sit down to our most American of feasts, we could vow to cherish the city we have, to acknowledge its imperfections and occasional injustices but to remember how much there is to love.........

    We can walk away from television and go back out into that city and sample its glories, to use each of its marvels as a talisman of faith in our common future. When I stand in City Hall Park, I always let my eyes play on the Woolworth Building, so close to the site of the World Trade Center, and so far.........

    To me, it's the great symbol of downtown, conceived in the muscular, confident years before World War I, elaborate, solid, made by tough immigrant workers, made to last.
    And so it has........

    Cherish, too, the Brooklyn Bridge: altered, mutilated, beaten up, but still there, and still the most beautiful of all our bridges. As a boy in the final years of World War II, I walked it with my mother and brother, coming across it high over the river, with the spires of Manhattan ahead of us like the frontier of Oz. Men died to build it. And there it is, and we should find some time to thank the people who put it there......

    We should cherish all our intellectual marvels: the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Natural History and others so numerous their names could fill this page. They are the beams and girders of our New York civilization. Along with our concert halls and theaters and opera houses, our jazz joints, our thousands of bookstores, our astonishing system of public libraries.........

    They are not there because of some elaborate imperialist conspiracy. Those institutions were created by the labor of New Yorkers, by their insistence that even our most humble citizens must have access to art and music and books. We should be thankful today to all those New Yorkers, most of them now dead, who demanded bread and roses, too........

    They gave us this city, and no tiny cult of God-sick fanatics will take it from us. They won't be able to rob us of Monument Hill in Prospect Park, Brooklyn - with its view toward the harbor, on a day of thick high summer. They won't rob us of a Sunday afternoon at the Battery, with Castle Garden to the right, and the Statue of Liberty enlightening the world out on her pedestal, gazing toward Europe..........

    Stand there at the Battery with a son or daughter or grandchild. Imagine this harbor frozen solid one winter during the Revolution, the ice so thick that the British redcoats could move cavalry across it to Staten Island and New Jersey. The ice didn't help. The Americans won. Then imagine the ships that brought us the immigrants. And remember the troop ships at the end of the Second World War, the decks jammed with young-old soldiers who had
    conquered the Nazis and were now gazing in tears at our skyline. Cherish that view. And thank them, too.........

    Nobody can take away the secret beauties of Inwood Hill Park, where stands of tulip trees rise 100 feet above the Earth, in a place preserved since the time when only Indians roamed our forests and wolves howled in the New York nights. Nobody should ever be allowed to take away Yankee Stadium, either, no terrorist, no misguided businessman. Each is a separate kind of New York marvel. They belong to us, and to children born last week........

    But above all, we should be thankful today to be part of the people of this city. I don't mean that in any smug way. We have killers among us, and people who should be confined to cages upstate, con men, hustlers, thieves and heartless predators. But they are comparatively few. Not even they can break this city, or destroy its civilized base, or erode its extraordinary energy. The people are just too tough..........

    If I need a good blast of New York energy, I go to Canal St. or 57th St. or Times Square and stand still, feeling the surge around me, the desire and drive of the people. Businessmen preparing to lam to the suburbs should remember that those daily New York collisions provide the same sort of irritations that in oysters create pearls.........

    It's Thanksgiving Day. We must remember our honored dead. We must remember all those innocents who died on a murderous morning in September. The city still is haunted by ghosts. But the presence of ghosts is what we call memory. On this day we must remember, and then embrace what we are, and what we will be."
    - Pete Hamill

    photos:
    News and Views | City Beat | Giving Thanks

    http://www.nydailynews.com/today/New...t/a-132843.asp
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    Thanks for sharing this, Julie. It is quite inspiring; even if I'm not a New Yorker.


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