In Poland before the coming of Democracy, one of the small ways that people could protest against the Communists was by putting up pictures of the World Trade Center. If you displayed an image of the Statue of Liberty, there was the very real risk of a charge of anti-government activity. But, with a photo of the Twin Towers, you could say that they were nothing but buildings — even though all knew that the Statue of Liberty was there too, just beyond the camera’s eye.
Irina, a Polish immigrant to the United States tells how life was very hard under totalitarian rule. Every day, returning home from work and having to climb up the many flights of stairs to her apartment left her exhausted. But, walking in the door to the small rooms, she’d see the picture of the World Trade Center. A little glow of hope would return; someday she’d live in Freedom, in America.
Years went by and as if by miracle that day finally did arrive. Communism collapsed. Irina was able to go to America.
The reality of the United States at first did not match the dream. The streets were dirty. Irina had thought that she knew English well, but people here all spoke very quickly and used many different unfamiliar dialects. Finding a job was difficult.
As New York City rents were completely beyond her means, someone suggested that Irina look for housing in Jersey City. Even there, the only affordable apartment was many flights up in an old building. At first she thought with disappointment that it was hardly better than were she had lived back in Poland. For a second or two she felt that coming to the United States had been a mistake. Then, Irina saw that there was a small window exactly in the same spot where she had the picture of the World Trade Center in her old place back in the Old World. Here, framed by the window, really were the Twin Towers, glowing as if covered in stars!
Over the next decade, every glance out that window reminded Irina of the miracle of Freedom’s spread to Eastern Europe from the United States.
Until September 11th.
“The Communists weren’t able to do it, but the terrorists could. They took the World Trade Center from us.”