One moment, the two silvery slabs shined in the morning sun amidst a clear and beautiful blue sky, on what promised to be one of the nicest days of the year. The next, they became a raging inferno, with dark smoke filling the sky. It was like a movie, but horribly real. In only 90 minutes, the nation watched as the World Trade Center towers perished along with thousands of anonymous people. Over a week later, the images still remain seared in our consciousness.

From the Staten Island Ferry, I daily received a spectacular view of the towers as they majestically filled the skyline of lower anhattan. One summer ago, I worked only blocks from the Center. Come lunch hour, I often walked there either to shop in the area’s stores or simply to enjoy a warm, sunny day.

Hundreds of vendors filled the surrounding blocks. Many immigrants, trying to take a piece of the American dream, operated food stands, offering a selection ranging from the standard hot dog to souvlaki or falafel. Others hawked an array of belts, ties and bags at bargain prices, while some sold pictures of the New York sites, hoping a few tourists might pay for a memory of the city. Now these sidewalk workplaces, along with the thousands in the towers, lie in a mangled pile of twisted steel and broken glass.

Even if unaffected directly, most New Yorkers can tell you just how narrowly they or one of their loved ones avoided harm. This past summer, I rode under the buildings on the N or R train every morning at about 8:20 a.m. as I made my way to Greenwich Village. And just over two weeks ago, while home over the Labor Day weekend, I shopped at a men’s clothing store located in One Liberty Plaza, a shiny black building across the street from the World Trade Center. There, I bought the very tie I’m wearing as I write this article. Now, mostly destroyed, the store serves as a temporary morgue.

My cousin faced the terror like few others. Working at her 37th floor desk in Tower One, she heard a huge explosion as the plane hit her building. Thrown to the floor, she threw off her shoes and raced out of the building. In a panic, she kept going until she walked over the Manhattan Bridge, and then to the Brooklyn fire station where her father works.

She arrived only to find him standing in the door, waiting for a happy reunion. She had walked the whole, long way without shoes. The next day, her feet were so swollen that she needed to see a doctor. Now, pain and memories of terror are all that remain.

The loss of thousands of lives has been made worse by the loss of one of the nation’s most recognizable landmarks. Once the tallest buildings in the world, the towers symbolized the creativity and power of America’s post-war economy. Finished in 1974 and built using unique architectural techniques, the Center heralded the coming of the Information Age. Now, with the buildings gone, only emptiness remains.

Much has been made of “moving on” and “rebuilding” our lives. But in the coming months, after we have had our time to grieve, we must literally rebuild. Already, the Center’s current owner says he plans to rebuild, but not exact replicas of the current buildings. He reasons that tenants might not relocate into such a prominent space. Fair enough, but I hope this does not mean we will cower in the face of terrorism.

The best way to show that we do not fear terrorism would be to rebuild the towers, higher than before. Why not pass the current record held by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and build the tallest buildings in the world? Shortly after the World Trade Center was completed, the Sears Tower surpassed it in height. This time, let’s make sure that will not happen.

By rebuilding, we proudly state that what we love about our nation (namely, capitalism and freedom) will not be trampled by evil, faceless terrorists. We proclaim that we will not be deterred from reaching into the sky in our attempt to fulfill the American dream. And we will demonstrate that our spirit will never be broken, that we shall never drop America’s torch.

Minoru Yamasaki, the Center’s chief architect, once said, “The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace.” We must renew that dedication. Sign me up for the first elevator ride to the 140th floor!

Charles Molluzzo is a junior in the College.

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