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Senior Citizen Magazine
"The New York State of Mind"
September, 2002
Volume 3, Issue 9, pgs 21-22
Author: Maria Esposito
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The New York State of Mind

I am a life-long New Yorker. I am used to seeing my city in the center of the media glare. And if the truth were known, I've actually come to expect the constant scrutiny; it's the price you pay for living in the city that has been called the crossroads of the world.

Lately, however, I've started wishing that all of the media would go away. Since the attacks on September 11th, being in the limelight feels like being watched at a wake. You want to scream and cry over your loss, but you really can't let go while the company is still here.

I thought that perhaps I was the only one who needed to find my own way to release all these pent-up emotions, but after doing some searching, I discovered that I wasn't alone. There are many people involved in finding a personal way of making sense of it all.

Of course, in times like these, artists have always been leaders in finding a form for expression. I discovered one such artist, David Greg Harth; who lives and works in New York City.

As a matter of fact, his studio is located in lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center.

Like so many people, he felt so helpless after the attacks and he needed to do something. Communicating through his art became a way of healing himself and others. He created a project in which he stamps dollar bills with the phrases "I AM NOT TERRORIZED" and "I AM NOT AFRAID." To him, money represented the ideal medium for his symbolic attack on terrorism because the terrorists struck lower Manhattan, the financial capital of the world.

David started stamping bills right after the September 11th attacks. He spends the stamped bills so that they are circulated. He also trades stamped dollars with people from all across the world who have contacted him through his website. Currently, there are over 150,000 stamped bills in circulation in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Washington DC, London and Berlin.

Finding comfort in the healing artwork and images that were created by ordinary people right after the tragedy is a special project underway at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Cass Bruton-Ward, the Director of University Relations reminded me that Hoboken lost people in the attacks too, which is why this project is so important to them

This art of the common folk was displayed on the streets of the city, yet most people have never seen them. Stevens Institute has documented hundreds of the best and they plan to present them to the public on September 7, 2002 in documentary format with live music and guest voiceovers.

Another documentary in the works is a joint project between the American Psychological Association and Discovery Health. The film, entitled Aftermath: The Road to Resilience, presents profiles in resilience from people of diverse ages in dealing with the events of September 11th as well as other hardships that we all experience.

The individuals profiled in this documentary all live or work within the same block in Brooklyn, just outside of Manhattan. They talk about recovery, healing and moving beyond.

And finally, no observance of the anniversary of this horrible event would be complete without some overt manifestation of our pride in our city and our country. That is why the tradition of flying service flags will be revived.

The service flag tradition began during World War I. As they watched their sons and husbands being sent overseas, women would hand-sew red, white and blue flags to hang in their front window to honor their loved ones. The flags were white with red edging and had blue stars to signify each member of the family serving in the war. When a family member died in battle, a gold star replaced a blue one to honor the solider who was killed. These flags have flown whenever America has been at war, Steve Rupp, a business owner in St. Louis wanted to bring back this tradition and he obtained authorization from the U.S. Department of Defense to do so. In addition to the military service flag, Steve has developed a version to honor firefighters that has a red Maltese shield and one to honor police officers that has a silver badge.

There will be many more outpourings of our collective emotions in this great city. No matter what form they may take, all them will have one thing in common. Each and every one of them will be saying that just like the loved ones whom we honor, we are proud to live in the city that has been called the crossroads of the world.

Copyright 2002, Senior Citizens Magazine.