PRINT November 2001

READING 9-11-01

Divided We Fall

New York City is, at its healthiest, a crucible of one-upmanship. So it was heartening to find that spirit alive—indeed, thriving—in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Personal accounts from those not directly affected that day (and there is no one in the city at more than three degrees of separation from the dead) have sometimes taken a distinctly competitive, closer-than-thou cast. Watching both towers fall was, sadly, a commonplace. An apartment coated in what we’ve all agreed to call “dust” was worth more. Seeing the first plane hit—not through the filter of television—trumped all.

Shocked at what had happened in their city, New Yorkers understandably tried to put themselves down there. And what held for individuals was true for whole professions. In the first hours after the calamity, as every newly essential pipe fitter and crane operator headed for the wreckage, less burly

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