Thursday, May 30, 2002

Right about now, a few blocks from here, a stretcher, empty except for an American flag, will be carried ceremonially from the World Trade Center site as a symbol of the thousands whose mortal flesh mingled with the elements on September 11 without leaving behind any identifiable remains. I feel no need to be there, having watched the North Tower collapse quickly into dust from a few blocks away.

By that time, I now understand, nearly everyone still alive had been evacuated; the greatest loss of life had occurred when the South Tower, the second hit, fell quite soon thereafter, as I stood on a bridge sixteen stories above the atrium of my own office tower, covering the windows with a brown pall of debris. But it was as I was walking homeward as rapidly as I could after descending innumerable stairs, turning back to see the spectacular collapse, that I was struck by the overwhelming weight of human lives extinguished.