Sun, 11 Sep 2011 10:55:55
This past Labor Day weekend, I went to New York to spend time with some very dear friends. Upon landing at LaGuardia airport, I had once again the feeling I had when landing there in 2002, looking at the skyline and noticing the twin towers were no longer in sight. This, of course, led me, once again, to remember that breezy June afternoon in 2001, when I was at the World Trade Center with another dear friend, listening to live music, amused by all the people dancing to Latin beats, while occasionally gazing upward to see the towers appear to solidly rise endlessly into the clouds.
If anything, at the time–if asked–I would have thought that that I, as a human,–and therefore, vulnerable–would perish or cease to exist first than such a colossal (also human) creation of steal and a myriad other components, sweat and effort included.
So this time, I landed just a week before the ten-year anniversary of 9/11/01, a date that evokes as many reactions and feelings as the people who had either visited the place, had died as a result of the attacks, had rushed out of duty and/or generosity of spirit to rescue those who could be saved, or who had spent countless hours perhaps under inclement weather building those towers.
The realization came to me in a matter of seconds. The human component keeps standing out in all its majesty, even if the physical towers are no longer in sight. And going back to New York, again, aware of how much pain extremism and fanaticism have caused and keep causing all around the planet, that human component clearly stood out, shining like a set of pillars into the twilight sky of en early September evening.
It was Labor Day weekend 2011. Almost exactly ten years later.
The meaning of Labor Day kept poking me more than ever before, now that a climate of hostility against labor unions has emerged, much along the same lines of the animosity that in some contexts still lingers on against Muslims and Arab-Americans after 9/11. Fear and anger continue to be the easy spots of human frailty were many are quick to lodge their empty platforms to manipulate social perceptions. Fear and anger continue to be the fuel for divisiveness, misinformation, and relegation of individuals who like you, or me, or someone you know, are assisting the elderly, plowing our streets, or instructing children on how to read and write. These may very well be the individuals who build, clean and maintain the towers where we work, educate, innovate, come together, and perhaps dance to the rhythms who brings us joy and a little respite from our daily preoccupations.
Nancy Bird-Soto; puertorriqueña, profesora en la Universidad de Wisconin-Milwaukee, nacida en 1975.