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In some small town somewhere in this country a family is planning a trip to Lower Manhattan for the week of Sept. 11. They are coming to New York City to pay their respects and to honor the victims who lost their lives and the heroes who gave theirs in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in history on American soil.
The official tenth anniversary commemoration ceremony held on 9/11 will only be open to the family members of victims, as it has been for the last nine years, but there will be numerous events occurring that week to allow all New Yorkers and people from all over the country and all over the world to honor the memories of those who perished in the attacks.
While a small fraction of Lower Manhattan residents who did not lose a loved one continue to protest their exclusion from the official ceremony, the community board that represents the neighborhood has come up with an alternative commemoration event, Hands Across Lower Manhattan.
We applaud C.B. 1’s attention to the desires of its constituents and the need to incorporate them. Moreover we salute the board for devising a way to include everyone, no matter where they were on that fateful morning or where they reside today. The Hands Across Lower Manhattan event will be all-inclusive and will symbolize the unity that the world witnessed after the towers fell. We hope enough people show up and take part to create a chain of goodwill that will stretch far and wide from Battery Park where it will all begin.
The event is three-pronged in that it will also include a ceremonial tree planting as well as a week’s worth of community service opportunities. The community service aspect is a chance for people to literally help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Like the members of the Battery Park Conservancy who returned in the days after the attack to clean trees leaf-by-leaf, volunteering one’s time to perform an act of service is in itself a healing gesture.
Pulling the event off will be no small task, but we know the community board is up to the challenge. We would hope, and we imagine, that nonprofits and other organizations all across the city will reach out to the community board to offer their assistance and to suggest ways people can give back to Lower Manhattan.
C.B. 1 Chair Julie Menin has assured us that within the next two weeks information will be disseminated to instruct people as to how they can participate. The community board is planning an intense outreach effort complete with a Facebook page as well as a dedicated website that will make registering for the event easy and hassle free. This is key because there will no doubt be thousands of residents and even more visitors who will want to take part. With the clock ticking, concentrating on the logistics of the event is essential.
We hope it goes off without a hitch. Indeed it has the potential to illustrate for the entire world exactly what type of community Lower Manhattan has become in the wake of the attack, and that is a community that is as open to the world, welcoming, and unified as any could be.