Jersey City Remembers Attacks

Jersey City, N.J., lost 37 residents in the Sept. 11 attacks and became a staging ground for relief efforts. Audie Cornish talks to NPR's Joel Rose. She also talks to NPR's Margot Adler in New York.

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AUDIE CORNISH, Host:

Now, events are also being held in many communities around Manhattan. Across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan is Jersey City, New Jersey. It lost 37 residents in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and became a staging ground for relief efforts. Overall, 746 New Jersey residents died on 9/11.

A new memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, across from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, was dedicated yesterday. It's called "Empty Sky"; the title of the song written after 9/11 by New Jersey native son Bruce Springsteen.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (Singing) I woke up this morning to an empty sky. Empty sky, empty sky. I woke up this morning...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "EMPTY SKY")

CORNISH: NPR's Joel Rose joins us now from Liberty State Park. Joel, how clear a view of the World Trade Towers would there have been from where you are standing?

JOEL ROSE: Well, Jersey City is just about a mile across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, so people here had a very clear, unobstructed view of the Twin Towers. But today, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy didn't want to focus on what is not there but on what is visible, and that is the new skyscraper that's under construction at One World Trade Center. Let's take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: My brother, Brian Christopher Novotny, may God bless you. God bless America.

MAN: I think it's a symbol that this country, certainly this New York metropolitan area, we did not give in, we did not succumb to the terrorists, that we are moving forward. And every time I look across the river and see that tower growing a little higher every week, I find it as a sign of optimism, hope, and certainly an inspiration to me and to many others.

CORNISH: Joel, what are people telling you there about how 9/11 affected their lives?

ROSE: Well, I talked to one woman who escaped from the South Tower, and also an EMT who arrived on the scene in Lower Manhattan about 20 minutes after a plane hit the South Tower. I spoke to them both this morning in Jersey City, and they both told me that 9/11 taught them to live for the moment and to treat each day like it could be their last.

And I also talked to a man in Jersey City who came down from Pennsylvania to Jersey City after 9/11 just because he was drawn to the scene, because he said he wanted to help. And he found himself across the river cleaning up at ground zero for several days after the attacks, working on the pile - as they called it - and that man is still doing volunteer work in his community today. So the experience of volunteering on 9/11 had a profound effect on him.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Joel Rose at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Thank you, Joel.

ROSE: You're welcome.

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