I'm a native New Yorker.
My parents were native New Yorkers.
My grandparents were native New Yorkers.
It's in my genes.
I still can't enter the Lincoln Tunnel without looking across the river to New York's skyline and searching for something that is no longer there. I feel an emptiness like I'm searching for a missing tooth in the back of my mouth.
My memories from that day are a kaleidoscope of images. But one phrase stuck in my mind. It was early on and people were frantically looking for survivors that would never be found. I forget who said it, but it moved me to tears. It reminded me of who we were and what we were made of. It gave me the strength I needed to keep moving forward.
God forbid I'm ever buried under a pile of burning rubble.
But if I am, I want to know New Yorkers are up there digging for me.
That phrase popped into my head as I watched Anthony Weiner excoriate the cowardly Republicans who dared turn their backs on 9/11 rescue workers.
When the towers came down, the heroes weren't the much-vaunted Masters of the Universe. The heroes were guys and gals who made 45,000 a year plus benefits. The heroes were working that pile of rubble until their boots melted.
The heroes were nameless people like the manager of a midtown Home Depot who camped out in the store until rescue workers showed up to replace their worn out and destroyed gear. They arrived thinking they were going to have to break in, and were surprised when he met them at the door. "I've been waiting for you," he said. Then he took them through the aisles and outfitted them with the best respirators, gear and tools he could find. When they told him they couldn't pay for all the stuff he told them he wouldn't take the money anyway. He just wanted to do his part so they could do theirs.
It's clear the same sense of purpose drives Weiner and Grayson. It's not something you can fake. Their righteous anger isn't a cynical ploy for the cameras like Newt Gingrich's famous tirades to empty chambers. These guys are on a mission and their opponents will be served. The corporate enablers in the infotainment industry can try to ignore it. They can try to misrepresent it. They can even try to make fun of it. But that just shows they don't get it.
You know who gets it? Republicans get it. That fire scares the hell out of the cowards who think they can bully people into giving in to outrageous demands. They just can't stand the thought of New Yorkers going full werewolf on their ass. That's the example Our Lady of Perpetually Clean Tables and Senator Punching Bag with Glasses need to follow. Someone discounted Weiner's outburst saying, "He can do that, he's in a safe district." I think if more Democrats followed his lead they'd be in safe districts, too.
Right now, this whole damn country is buried under a burning pile of rubble. I'm glad the president wants to change the tone of the discussion. But the sad truth is people are dying in the rubble and we don't have the luxury of waiting for Republicans to get out of the way. That's why this native New Yorker is proud we have New Yorkers like Weiner and Grayson digging for us. It gives me hope.