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Wall Street Goes Back to Work - 2001-09-17

New York City's financial district returned to life Monday, less than a week after terrorist attacks leveled the nearby World Trade Center. Workers returned to Wall Street with a combination of determination and apprehension.

Spurred on by patriotic music from loudspeakers above, employees in New York's financial district quickly made their way through streets still covered with a thin coating of ash from last Tuesday's devastation of the World Trade Center.

While most people seemed happy to be returning to work, there was a mix of emotions. Several were seen crying as they made their way down Wall Street and others said they felt some apprehension at returning to work.

Nick Matera, a telephone clerk for a Wall Street brokerage firm, says he supports the decision to keep the markets closed last week. "Oh absolutely, absolutely. Because I think, who are you kidding? You are going to try to open on Wednesday or Thursday when you could not even breathe down here? This one time, they used their heads, you know," he said.

In addition to returning to their jobs, some people were also returning to their homes for the first time since the events of last Tuesday. Klas Bergman was relieved to find his apartment undamaged and relatively free of the ash and dust that covered lower Manhattan like a snowstorm in the wake of the World Trade Center collapse. "I felt, you know, for the first time since last Tuesday sort of a new energy and new activity in the city, school buses going and people ready to get back to work, which is a wonderful feeling, really," he said.

Some of those heading down Wall Street seemed particularly eager to return to work and to move beyond the World Trade Center disaster. Todd Everts is president of Wall Street Global, a firm that operates mutual funds and on-line trading in 52 countries. "Our emotions are that we obviously commiserate over the horrific event that happened last Tuesday and the firms that lost people and for their families," he said. "But as our president said, it is time to get back to work. That is what we do. We can't sit and watch the TV any longer. We need to get to work and do what we do best."

Red Cross volunteers are on hand to listen to and comfort those who have fears and concerns about returning to work.

Red Cross spokesman Bob McGrath says getting back to work is an important part of the healing process. "The word that both a number of our counselors said and also that I have seen myself is determination," he noted. "This has been a tough week for a lot of folks and the effects of it in terms of people's psyche and emotion is going to take a long time to heal. But I think there are a lot of people who are saying, 'we've been through the disaster, but we are determined to get back and do our jobs.' And doing their jobs is making the world's freest, most transparent market up and going again."

A few blocks away, commuters on their way to work pause and look down a side street that provides an excellent view of ground zero, the twisted pile of steel and concrete where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

Bill Adams, a Christian activist from Atlanta, has decided that this is a good place to deliver his message. "Come on Wall Street, hear the cry of God. Exalt God in this land," he exclaims. "Let him raise the market, let him restore our land. Restore your heart, restore your families. Come on, brothers, sisters! God is crying out! Hear the cry of God, friends."

Virtually no one stops. They are too busy trying to get work and trying to get on with their lives.