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Candles of 9/11

There was a short time, five years ago, when we all flew the flag. This was before the "War on Terror" became a pretext, and before we Americans were afraid (or ashamed) to reveal our nationality abroad. New Yorkers remember those first few days in September, 2001, when we really did stand united — even behind the president who stole the election, and the mayor who’d closed down the nightclubs. Five years, two wars, and several crises later, those weeks of trauma almost feel like a moment of innocence.

New York now feels less safe than it did five years ago. Having squandered our nation’s reputation on a grudge match in Iraq, we now sit powerless while a genocidal Iranian regime develops nuclear weapons. Taking our shoes off at airports, we turn a blind eye to tons of freight arriving each day, uninspected, in New York. And having alienated our allies in Europe and around the world, one wonders if the next 9/11 will inspire the same sense of unity as the last one did.

Yet beyond all the politics, or perhaps one might say, before them, 9/11 remains for New Yorkers a personal injury. It happened to us, to our town, and in many cases to our friends. These simple images, captured five years ago by New York photographer and graphic designer Elana Dweck, evoke for me the personal nature of the September 11 tragedy. As we observe the fifth yahrzeit of the attacks, these are the candles that burn.

– Jay Michaelson

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