Almost a month later, the tears still flow so freely.

I came home this weekend to see for myself what my hometown has turned into. I thought I could muster up enough strength to take the ferryboat from my native Staten Island to downtown anhattan and see with my own eyes the massive destruction. I was wrong. I planned to visit Ground Zero and pay my respects, pray and mourn, but I couldn’t. I was on the Staten Island Railway headed to the ferry when I noticed a fireman seated across from me. He carried a water bottle in one hand and his helmet, with the American flag painted on the side, in his other. I must have stared at him the whole ride, wondering what was going through his mind. He noticed but he pretended he didn’t. I tried to think of something meaningful to say to him but no words could encompass everything I was feeling. I muttered, “Thank you,” and he forced a smile back and nodded. He looked directly into my eyes, as if to say, “You have no idea what I see everyday.” I made it to the ferry terminal and saw three or four more emergency workers headed to the sight for their night shift. They walked together towards the ferry, silent and tired. I couldn’t go any further. My heart was too heavy.

Many people speak of the need to move on with their lives, to show the world that we will not succumb. I’m not going to lie; I’m having trouble moving on. Part of me doesn’t want to. I open up my local paper on Saturday morning and see the picture of 240 Staten Islanders that were lost. These were neighbors, parents, sons and daughters, grandparents, rescue workers. They are supposed to be picking their children up from school, going to the ballpark, working to support their families, enjoying their lives; they are no longer. Some say it does no good to keep talking, writing and thinking about the events of the 11th; that it doesn’t bring the dead back. But honestly, that is not fair. Whether we would like to admit it or not, failure to speak or think about what happened leads to forgetting and I don’t want to forget. I need to remember.

I drive down the streets of my town and every garage is covered with the red, white, and blue of our beloved flag, every other car has a flag attached to the antenna, and every storefront has signs of praise and prayer for the rescue workers. My home and the rest of the country have persevered through this devastation and exhibited an unmatched sense of patriotism, yet we need to learn to get on with our lives without moving on. Moving on suggests leaving something behind, and that I cannot and will not do.

I drove with my father Sunday morning to the N.Y. Giants game and as I passed over the Goethals Bridge I was sickened with a remarkable feeling. I was scared to go to the game. I was disgusted with myself, thinking that these evildoers really had succeeded, but you cannot eliminate fear. You can mask it and suppress it, but it is still festering inside of me and I’m not sure when it will leave again. I don’t think I will ever forget driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, looking to my right and seeing a huge gap in lower Manhattan. I tried to say something to my dad but once again I found myself without any words; only tears. We arrived at the game to find state troopers patrolling the perimeter of the parking lots and for the first time in my life I was frisked at a sporting event. I know that in a time like this we must take every precaution against a second attack but I was angered and saddened by this seemingly insignificant action. I can’t help but wonder if this is what our country will be like from now on, and if this is only the beginning of a new era of everyday fear.

 When we entered the stadium, I was thrilled to see hundreds of American flags waving proudly throughout the stadium. I was not standing amongst 80,000 Giants fans, but rather 80,000 Americans, and it felt so damn good. Yet at this time, the feelings of pride and sorrow intertwine so viciously that I sometimes wonder if my heart can sustain it. I’m not ashamed to admit that my eyes watered throughout the singing of our national anthem, but I was not alone. New York and the rest of our great nation have rallied together in this time of need, for it is the only way to triumph over this evil. Yet we must not move on, nor forget. For every time I am patted down or have my bags searched, I will remember those lost. I can go on with my life and try to return to some sort of normalcy, but the 6,000 or so heroes deserve to be remembered day in and day out. It may bring pain and sorrow, but we cannot forget. God bless America.

Jason Del Ray is a sophomore in the College.

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