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Away From Ground Zero, Life Continues Despite Painful Memories

Steven Margolis (center) at at Zabar’s delicatessen in New York
Steven Margolis (center) at at Zabar’s delicatessen in New York

In New York, the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was marked with high ceremony at Ground Zero. The date was also noted elsewhere in the city, in houses of worship, in public performance spaces, and informal ways that New Yorkers express their can-do spirit despite their painful memories of that day.

It is Sunday morning September 11 in the coffee shop at Zabar’s delicatessen on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and, as usual, customers are lining up clamoring for fresh Danish pastries, hot coffee and some spirited conversation.

For Chilotte Erbibou, this is best way to remember the 9/11 attacks. “It is life. We go on. We go on. That is what I said to my husband. Nothing can kill us, our spirit. It is the spirit that counts. I am French and I have been here for 30 years, but still I am amazed how America can be so positive and extraordinary, and I love this country," she said.

Hannah Bloch was downtown, mere blocks from Ground Zero, starting her third day of high school when the two jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers. She is in Zabar's today to buy some bagels, what she calls “Jewish comfort food,” for the open road. “I was just on the subways with a bunch of firefighters and it is just a really emotional day for me [and] I think for a lot of New Yorkers. I am going to leave the city. I am gong to go hiking. I just can not be here today," she said.

Philip Goodman, a World War II vet and a regular at Zabar’s feels he can not really be anywhere on this day, but here. “Actually, I think I have tried not to think too deeply about it because it was so painful to me originally. Just looking at it was one of the most horrendous moments of my life. It was almost like watching a child die for me. I am a New Yorker, I was born here. And the symbolism of that was very troubling for me," he said.

Nearby, Steven Margolis has a practical response when asked what he is doing to mark the day,

“The truth? Probably avoiding the subways. Staying out of downtown. And I think it is just a mater of being aware of what is around you. There is little you can do, but for the most part I trust the authorities to handle matters. It used to be that if you heard a boom at night after 9/11 you would jump out of your chair. At the time if you scratched someone's skin, you'd find them very. very scared. But now, it is 10 years, people have adjusted in one sense. I think its full significance and meaning, everyone will carry with them for the rest of their lives," he said.

Some thoughts of everyday New Yorkers, a mere eight kilometers from Ground Zero, as they mark their own September 11 anniversary.