Editorial: Ground Hero

By The TimesLedger

As we all know too well, the ruins that were once the glorious twin towers of the World Trade Center have come to be known as “Ground Zero.” It was a term first popularized after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. At the time, that was the most devastating act of terrorism our nation had ever experienced.

Sadly that tragedy was eclipsed by the violence of Sept. 11, 2001. One of the many people helping to organize the rescue effort in downtown Manhattan has suggested that the media refer to the site where the World Trade Center once stood not as “Ground Zero ” but as “Ground Hero.”

This ground, which has smoldered for so long, is indeed a “Ground Hero.” It is first and foremost the place where so many heroes breathed their last breath. It was at “Ground Hero” that hundreds of firefighters died trying to save the lives of workers trapped in the World Trade Center.

We have heard this often, but it bears repeating: these firefighters went running into those building while thousands of men and women were running out. Along with the police officers, EMS crews and other emergency workers, they died in the most noble way possible. They gave their lives to save the lives of others. If they are not heroes, the word has no meaning.

But there are to this day not hundreds but thousands of other heroes working at Ground Hero. Many of these men and women have been laboring with only hours of rest since the collapse of the towers. Just as many of the victims were the sons and daughters of Queens, so too many of those sifting through the rubble are also residents of Queens. We are proud of these heroes, most of whom will forever remain nameless, and we are grateful for their effort.

But the list of heroes does not stop here. Behind the scenes, countless other people are working at a feverish pitch to support the rescue effort and restore this city to some level of normalcy. Since day one, there has been a gargantuan effort that involved the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, a Joint Task Force made up of every branch of the military, Con Edison, Verizon, FEMA and numerous federal, state and city agencies. The effort that has continued around the clock is nothing less than awesome.

These heroes have worked under the direction of the city's Office of Emergency Management. Despite the fact that the OEM headquarters was destroyed when Tower 7 collapsed, this agency has succeeded in coordinating what is arguably the largest rescue effort in the history of our nation.

Is this site Ground Hero? You bet.

Editorial: A time for tolerance

We all feel the rage. In the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the murder of more than 6,000 men and women, if you are not angry, you are less than human. And anger needs an object. But it is important that the object of our rage be those responsible for the terrorism and no one else.

We are saddened but not surprised to learn that in Queens some small-minded people are lashing out at their fellow citizens solely because they wear a turban or pray in a mosque. We are saddened that some women who dress in a manner that identifies them as Islamic are afraid to leave their homes.

There is no excuse for blaming all Arab-Americans for this horrendous act of terrorism. Those who engage in such foolish bigotry must not be tolerated. If we allow the fanatical terrorists to divide us, we give them a victory they do not deserve.

This nation has not been this united since the end of World War II. That unity must stand against those who, in fear, would unfairly scapegoat any community.

Editorial: Big shoes to fill

There was a primary election Tuesday, the most important primary this city has ever held, and nobody really cared. Some pundits argued that the city was not ready for an election. They asked for a delay but that did not happen.

Come January we will have a new mayor and a new city council. One thing is certain: whoever wins the mayoral race in November will have big shoes to fill. Even the mayor’s political enemies concede that he has done a masterful job in seeing this city through this moment of crisis. Over the past two weeks, most New Yorkers have been openly grateful that a man like Rudy Giuliani was in charge.

The president of France, Jacques Chirac, said his country calls the mayor “Rudy the Rock.” Comedian Dave Letterman, in a rare moment of seriousness, called Mayor Giuliani “the embodiment of courage.”

The rebuilding of this city will have only begun when the next mayor is sworn in. The challenge will be awesome, but the pattern for success will have already been set.

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