In the News
In the Know
Seeking Hope 10 Years Later
Of the thousands of heartfelt messages and placards on the
ON THE COVER: FROM TOP LEFT CLOCKWISE: TODD HIDO/EDGE REPS; THOMAS NORTHCUT/GETTY IMAGES; BLUE PILLS AND PLATE: GETTY IMAGES; RED AND YELLOW PILLS: DUNCAN SMITH/GETTY IMAGES THIS PAGE: SUSAN MEISELAS/MAGNUM
fence surrounding Ground Zero, one
posted by the New York Fire Department’s Ladder Co. 20 raised a defiant
to give up
and get the
cry: “You have destroyed our buildings, but not our foundation.” ; Ten
years later, the buildings are slowly
being rebuilt by 3,000 workers at the
site each day. ; But how about the
foundation? With a fragile economy,
a dysfunctional government, deval-ued institutions and angry, dispir-
ited citizens, our nation’s foundation
needs some work, too. Our genera-
; St. Paul’s, at
Sept. 11, 2001.
tions, better than most, know the state of that foundation. We have borne the brunt of the Great Recession—our
homes have lost value, our retirement savings have shrunk,
and the unemployment rate among those over 55 is at
historic highs. All the while and in unprecedented numbers, our children and our parents look to us for support.
; Looking for optimism? Visit St. Paul’s Chapel, the
tiny 245-year-old stone chapel across the street from Ground Zero.
Miraculously, as the twin towers collapsed, this tiny chapel sur-
vived and overnight became an oasis of hope and rest for thou-
sands of rescue and recovery workers. After arranging the first
supper of hot dogs on Sept. 12, the chapel coordinated an effort
that grew day by day and organized, cooked and served up to
Martin Cowart remembers his cousin’s phone call
for assistance. He’s a New York mortgage banker,
but he was called because church leaders saw the
need to feed recovery workers, and Cowart had
worked in a restaurant. Amid the chaos and despair
at Ground Zero, during the desperate search for vic-
tims and the effort to restore a degree of order and
structure, Cowart and fellow workers mobilized
and focused completely on helping the workers.
“No matter what changed, what the rules were, the
common goal was to get these people some food, to
get these people to a safe place,” Cowart recalled. “It wasn’t about
being important, or being the boss or being in charge. It was about
belonging to a group that was helping other people. It was totally
human. It was around the energy. People were able to give up their
self-interest and do whatever it took to get the job done.”
Today, we have the challenge of restoring a foundation built on
our shared history of inventiveness, freedom and sensitivity to oth-
ers. We have the unique opportunity of developing a society that
respects its elders while protecting the needs of our children and
their children. Just as the workers at St. Paul’s learned, it will take
focus, planning, flexibility and resilience. We can learn from them.
At 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, guests will gather outside St. Paul’s, look
across the street at the World Trade Center construction site and
strike a bell. Just like Big Ben and the Liberty Bell before it, the St.
Paul’s “Bell of Hope” was cast at London’s Whitechapel foundry.
“The ringing of the bell symbolizes the triumph of hope over tragedy,” a nearby sign declares. Take a moment to listen for the sound.
Then get to work. Let’s get the job done. —Jim Toedtman, Editor
AARP Bulletin September 2011, Volume 52, No. 7 (USPS Number 002-900; ISSN 1044-1123) is published monthly except February and August by AARP, 601 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20049 (telephone: 1-888-687-2277). Internet site: aarp.org/bulletin, “The Newspaper of 50-Plus America.”
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