Hello, all! My name is Meredith Atkinson and I am excited to be part of the NYAP Fall 2016 class! I am from Southwestern University in Texas where I study Film & Literature. During the program, I will be part of the Writing and Publishing group. I have the privilege to be interning with filmmaker Eric Schneider at Mutable Films, as well as in the office of screenwriter/director/author John Sayles. I couldn’t be more excited to have this incredible opportunity.
Now that you know a little bit about me, I’d like to share a fact with you. As some of you may know, this year’s high school freshman class will be the world’s first class to learn about the incidents that took place on September 11th, 2001 without having actually been alive on that day. They are the first to learn about the events without having a story about where they were when the Twin Towers fell. I personally cannot share much about my 9-11 story because I was in first grade at the time. I do remember seeing the scene of smoke emerging from the towers on the morning news and many adult faces in a look of shock and discomfort as I tried to understand what happened that day. I also remember my teacher reading my first grade class a children’s book with lighthearted illustrations of two buildings standing tall in the skyline of New York City which had since gone away. It wasn’t until I got much older until I started associating that picture book with words like “attack” and “tragedy.” After all, how do you explain an act of terrorism to a 6-year-old?
Being only 6 years old on September 11th, 2001 has shadowed me and my generation with a disconnect from the events of that day. I was not affected by that tragedy the same way my parents and teachers were. I, like many others my age, have only just recently come to fully comprehend the effect that tragedy had on the United States. And yet, as I finally have a distant understanding of this incident, I face a new barrier as I come to New York City. Getting to experience the 9-11 memorial and museum this week was a surreal experience which put into perspective just how many different ways this tragedy has affected Americans. From the victims to the first responders, to those who watched it happen and those who saw the aftermath happen in their city, there are so many degrees of hurt felt by so many souls. Experiencing the memorial and seeing so many cultures gathered together in one area while remembering the same event helped me to realize just how special and unique it is to be in the city where the towers used to stand.
On this day, I give my heart to you, New York City. I send my love to all of those who were immediately affected by the terrorist attacks that took place on this day, 15 years ago. While I am experiencing your mended city in a 15 year old shadow, I can still feel your pain, though I’m never going to understand it in the way you do. Although I can only sympathize for you, I hope that I can at least put a warm shoulder on all of those who are empathizing together today, including those who were directly affected and all the adults in my life who allowed me to keep my innocence on that day and only discover the pain felt by New York City when I was old enough to understand. I am undeservingly lucky to have such a distance from this horrific tragedy, but I want to lend an outstretched hand to those who are taxed with a more vivid memory of where they were on this day.
To New York City, I thank you for lending me your city this semester and allowing me to be a part of this resilient community. I hope I can make you proud.
With Gratitude and Condolences,