Thursday, August 12, 2010

New York, New York

I am a son of the South. With the exception of my service in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have lived my entire life in the Southeastern USA. I've had the good fortune to travel all over the world, but it's the South I'll always call home. I love its heat and humidity, the grits and gravy, the Appalachian Mountains, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the writers and musicians, the red clay, pine trees, peach pie, and peanut brittle. Athens, Georgia on a football Saturday is nothing short of a quick little glimpse into Heaven itself (with red & black substituting for gold, of course). God has to let UGA lose every now and then or else we Dawg people might begin to think we'd already been called Home.

But by far, my favorite city on the face of this planet is New York. It is simply the greatest city in the world, in a world fully stocked with great cities. I love London, Sydney, Rome, Dublin, Tokyo, and Toronto. And I love our own Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans, and my hometown Atlanta.

None can compare to New York, however. Its restaurants, its museums, its theaters, its skyline, its spirit and character--all of which I like. Its sports teams, its flagship newspaper, its traffic, its mostly liberal politics--none of which I like. But that's just it! New York has everything, whether you like it or not. It is big and brawny and sprawling, loud and boisterous, busy and action-filled, so deal with it.

Who will ever forget the way the city dealt with 9/11 and its immediate aftermath? New York took a punch and got back up again. It asked for help, but not sympathy, and our nation responded accordingly. In the process it won the admiration of America, if not the world.

I remember a visit my wife and I made to the city at Christmas, 2003. We visited Ground Zero, took in a show, and shopped the stores. But the moment I remember most vividly was when a FDNY engine passed in the street. I gave a salute to a fireman looking my way, and he returned the salute. From one American to another. If 9/11 had been a quick little glimpse into hell, then our witness to the bravery of those firefighters on that unforgettable day gives us all a lift, a pride, an appreciation for our people's spirit, and the spirit of our greatest city. Who can ever forget that bravery? That resilience? That quintessential New York can-do attitude?

It is the greatest city in the world.

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