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.