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I remember reading a poem with that title shortly after 9/11. As another anniversary of 9/11 looms painfully on the horizon, I can’t help but feel the pain of my city as I remind myself that I am still a New Yorker.

See, I am a New Yorker!  Although I don’t live in New York any longer. Business opportunities have taken my family and me to different states  and cities over the years.  But that doesn’t change my feelings for New York;  I am still a New Yorker.

I was born in New York City and was raised on the city’s streets. I went through grade school, St. Agnes, high school, Cathedral, and business school,Packard, in New York.   I grew up shopping on the avenues in little family-owned ethnic stores.  We had a neighborhood candy store where we could get egg creams and dixie cups.  Of course you could also purchase the newspaper and back then we had a selection of many; Daily News, Daily Mirror,  Journal American, The Herald Tribune, just to mention a few. I married in my local parish church, Church of St. Agnes, to the boy I met in grade school.  I worked in the city.  I am a New Yorker.

 I have ridden the buses and trains and trolleys. I have played hide and seek in Grand Central Terminal during my younger school years.  I have roller skated in the streets, danced on the concrete in Central Park, the 36th street park at St. Gabriel’s Church, and at Kips Bay Boys Club on 52nd Street on Friday nights when Martin Block would bring celebrities in to entertain us.  I’ve ridden the trolley and the 3rd Avenue El, I’ve swam in the waters of Coney Island, and Rockaway, South Beach, and Rye Beach, (no, never, the East River, that was for a few daredevil boys).  I’ve eaten hot dogs from the street vendors and tossed pennies out the window to the organ grinder so his monkey would do a trick while he played a tune. I’ve plugged nickels into the coin slots at Horn and Hardart for a corn muffin and hot chocolate after First Friday Mass. I marched with my high school, Cathedral High School in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which ended around 76th street where I drank my first green beer. My graduation ceremony was beautifully held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

 The smell of roasting chestnuts still makes me yearn for the days of a younger more congenial New York! But, Oh, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and the magical windows on 5th avenue around Christmas time and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Pageant. And if you were raised on the east side you surely know  about the Pepsi Cola sign and the East River.  I still prefer Pepsi to Coke, and it still tastes better dispensed from a fountain in New York.  I am a New Yorker.

 One doesn’t have to live in New York to still proclaim to be a New Yorker. I have been a New York Yankee fan since the day I went to my first Yankee game with my Dad when I was about 6 or 7.  I am a New York Giants fan.  I love Macy’s and although there is nothing like shopping in Macy’s 34th street, I support the Macy’s where I live. I wouldn’t miss a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV and I never miss a chance to visit Macy’s whenever I am in New York.  I hope they never replace the wooden escalators on the 7th avenue side. They are priceless.

 And then, for me, there is nothing like stepping out of the airline terminal when traveling back to New York and listening to the sounds of the city to let me now that I am home. And it might seem odd to many but our children who were not raised in the city, as my husband and I were, love it as much as we do. They love going back and it helps that we have family there. Some hope to live there someday.

So, as 9/11 approaches I mourn for the city that was when I was growing up.  The city where you could leave your sleeping child outside the storefront in the carriage while you shopped.  Where people said Merry Christmas and God Bless You.  Where we lived together, Christians, Jews, Italians, Germans, Irish, Polish and many others who made up the fabric of the city.  It didn’t matter, we were New Yorkers. We joked about Manhattan being the real New York City to those living in Brooklyn or the Bronx.  Staten Island was a foreign country!  But in the end, we were all New Yorkers.

What savagery, what inhumanity!  Although the pain was deep, I was so proud of my city in the days following 9/11.  The strength, compassion, patience, promise and determination of the people just gave the assurance that New York  was going to survive.  But, of course, New York would survive.  New York had gumption.  New York had moxie!

The Memorial is built, and it is a beautiful tribute to the men and women and children who died that day.  The courage and perseverance of the policemen and firefighters cannot be applauded enough.  It honors them too. It’s difficult to visit the Memorial without shedding tears.

No matter where I live or where I travel to, I encounter New Yorkers.  People who love this City and are also proud to say, “I am a New Yorker”.  Yes, I, too, am a New Yorker.  I may live elsewhere, but I love New York.

God Bless America and God Bless our Troops. God Bless all those who serve so that we may be free!   And God Bless New York and make it great once again.  Sorry to say but it does need a little help right now!

Let’s Roll!



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