A Young New Yorker’s View of
the WTC Tragedy
By Laura Salvato,
Student at Marymount Manhattan College



A professional cellist, dressed in full costume, playing softly amidst the commotion, hoping his talent will help to soothe the nerves of a tense staff and frazzled patients. Elderly neighborhood people preparing and delivering homemade food to feed the hungry workers and to spread some hope. Licensed massage therapists, acupuncturists, and clinical therapists donating their time and their skills to ease a portion of the suffering.  These are just a few of the recent scenes inside St Vincent’s Catholic Hospital and Medical Center, which became the principal receiving trauma center of the wounded from the World Trade Center Attack. 

My mother is one of the head nurses in the Emergency Room at St. Vincent’s.  She has been at the heart of the madness since day one.  She told me, “The countless people searching for loved ones is the hardest part, but the massive amount of humanitarianism exhibited here has been amazing”.  She has come home every night with stories of generosity, compassion and plain old inspiration.  My favorite story was about the Police and Fire Departments’ rescue dogs.  Their paws were burnt from the extremely hot conditions they were working in.  They were brought to the hospital, treated, and some doctors and nurses made little isolated booties for them to wear so they could go back and keep searching. 

At the hospital, the days have been filled with prayer services and candlelight vigils.  Edward Cardinal Egan, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, and Governor George Pataki have attended them.  When asked how they (the staff) get through these rough times, my mom says, “We find solace in listening to and supporting each other.  We lean on each other.  We’re like a family”.  Aside from my mom’s heavy involvement at St Vincent’s, I have a cousin, a fireman, who is among the missing and two uncles who are police officers who have been down at the site working and searching with the rest of their comrades.  I have felt overwhelmed at times, but there is nothing you can do but keep looking straight ahead because if you don’t, you’ll lose your way.

Where do we go from here? So many questions need answering. Do people continue to live normally as they had before the attacks or do people allow fear to rule their actions? Is traveling in New York City, or any metropolitan area, safe? Is it prudent to work at and visit skyscrapers and landmarks? It would be presumptuous of me to act as if I knew the answer.  I have no clue!  I feel the fear; I was scared to death the first day. A part of me is still scared. I am angry that this could happen in our country and I am mad that so many people here are suffering. It just seems so unfair.      

Malice and immorality are not present at the core of the overwhelming majority of human beings. Most people are goodhearted, and the amount of goodwill and generosity that came from these events has been astounding. People have never rallied around a cause as we are rallying now.  The malevolent intentions of the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were to break our indomitable spirit — the very essence that makes us American. The recent explosion of patriotism and adornment of flags may seem hypocritical, but sometimes it takes drastic experiences to remind people of what they have.

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