Monday, December 17, 2001 10:21 PM

Today was not my first day back in New York, but it was my first day back on public transporation. At Penn Station, a whole wall of a corridor was covered with red, white and blue craft paper. Thousands of signatures, prayers, and wishes were penned in every handwriting imaginable; from the scrawl of a kindergartner to a teen's bubbly script to the shaky penmanship of a senior. Photos, photocopies, artwork, and flowers were pinned up. Rosaries hung here and there from pushpins. Nowhere did we see curses, slurs, four-letter words, paper ripped off. Only well wishes, prayers, and appearing so many times, "I'm sorry." Mrs. Jones's fourth grade class wrote a book of poetry that I could not bring myself to open for fear that I would certainly lose it right there in the corridor. Brightly laminated butterflies covered one section, as if their wings could carry the prayers right up to heaven. It was all of it breathtakingly beautiful.

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