Director's Statement

In November of 2001 I began volunteering at Ground Zero after months of effort to get to the site. Like so many people, I felt that only by contributing to the recovery effort could I somehow overcome my sense of helplessness. What I expected was a grim, dark and hopeless place. What I found instead was a city within a city where people worked, slept, ate, cried — even laughed — and above all gave each other support and comfort. Its inhabitants were people from all walks of life, and all political and cultural persuasions who had come together with a common purpose. Relationships formed quickly and deeply and permanently — similarly, I suppose, to those of people in war, where the fragility of life and the value of friendship are never more acutely apparent.

It was a unique place with an extraordinary feeling of solidarity and human kindness and an intensity of purpose and experience that I couldn't quite describe to my friends and family who had not been there. Everyone down there said the same thing: "You can't describe it. No-one would understand."

This is my attempt — through the recollections and experiences of those who lived and breathed it — to share it, to describe it, and to any extent possible, make it understood.

— Susanna Styron

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