“Mommy, why are there so many police everywhere?”
I looked around. She was right. They stood on every street corner it seemed, decked out in bulky bullet proof vests. New York City, more than any other city in the world that I have visited, possesses a very visible police force. No longer simply protecting us from each other, they stood ready to protect us from them.
Did it make me feel safer?
Yes. Yes it did.
I grabbed my daughter’s hand as we crossed the street with the crowd of other people. The Empire State Building rose up in the distance.
“Are you going to take your kids to the 9/11 museum?”
They are six and seven.
“No. They aren’t ready for that yet.”
I’m not ready for that yet.
I dropped my purse and camera into a bin and wiggled out of my jacket, sending it and my ball cap through the scanner then stepped through the metal detector. The security guard nodded silently. We were free to move on to the next staging area.
“Mom, why is it that everywhere we go here is like the airport?” my son asked.
In truth this was the forth scanner we had walked through on this trip. Long lines made longer by strict security. Stress. My kids felt it. So did I.
“Some years ago there was an attack on two tall buildings here in New York. They collapsed and thousands of people died. There are people who hate Americans and want to hurt them so the police and all of the security measures are trying to prevent something from happening like that again.”
Watching the towers collapse over and over again on the news feed at the clinic between patients, the world shifted. It wasn’t until the next day, as the dust was settling, that it became apparent just how much it had shifted.
My kids seemed to take in the information and I braced myself for more questions, for fear, or even tears from my daughter, but there was nothing.
This is their world. They don’t know what it was like before 9/11, a world where simply being American carried with it a certain degree of power and respect. They didn’t feel that shift. They will only know a September 12th world, a world where they are targets.