Itook my kids to Ground Zero in July. I hadn’t gone before. We just walked out onto that public-viewing platform. What’s very moving down there are the photographs and memorials. All the smiling faces. Pictures of people with their families on a sunny afternoon in the yard. People in their uniforms. They’re a reminder of the life that’s gone. I found that sight to be deeply, deeply moving. Just the sense of sacrifice. Especially when you look at the dirty greed and selfishness that’s in the news right now — it’s shameful, criminals walking away scot-free. I think one of the things that shocked people was the size of the sacrifice made on that day. There’s nothing that I think could prepare people — I mean, whatever they’re paying you to be a fireman or a policeman, they’re not paying you that. And that goes to some central point about how people experience their duty, their place in the world, their connection to the people alongside themselves and to complete strangers. If you look at the past twenty years, people might say, “Oh, that’s disappeared from America.” But if you look closely, it’s there every day. And it casts a great contrast to what you see going on at the corporate level right now, and the acquiescence of the current administration, the willingness to look the other way.
This story is from the September 19th, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone.