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After An Attack, New Yorkers' Brave Act: Keep Going

Flowers are placed on a bike at a memorial on Thursday at the scene of Tuesday's terrorist attack along a bike path in Lower Manhattan.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
Flowers are placed on a bike at a memorial on Thursday at the scene of Tuesday's terrorist attack along a bike path in Lower Manhattan.

Great cities keep going. On Tuesday this week, the F Train Sixth Avenue Local churned between 179th Street in Queens and Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island without any reported delays. People got on and got off at Kew Gardens, Roosevelt Island, Rockefeller Center and Neptune Avenue.

The curtains for Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Hello, Dolly! all went up on time; the shows got standing ovations.

Prayer times were observed at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn. Jehovah's Witnesses went door-to-door in Queens. Mass was said at St. Peter's Church on Barclay Street in Lower Manhattan at 7:10 a.m., 12:05 p.m. and 1:05 pm.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel, the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn didn't close their doors.

Caffe Lanka in the Bronx was open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., a normal business day, and served dosas, hummus and shawarma. The Tuscan Hills restaurant on Queens Boulevard made fresh fettucine al porcini and tortelloni al funghi, as planned. The New York Daily News, Post, Timesand Wall Street Journal all made their deadlines.

Macy's in Herald Square, Party City in Brooklyn, Kohl's Rego Park, Queens, all opened and closed on time.

And at 7 p.m., swarms of Ninja Turtles, Wonder Women, ghouls, skeletons, minions, Harry Potters, Annas, Elsas, Olafs, little LeBrons, Donald Trumps, T-Rexes and Hillary Clintons, and the true, life-sized mayor and governor of New York stepped off down Sixth Avenue for the annual Village Halloween Parade.

They all knew that a little after 3 p.m., and less than a mile away, a man had steered a rented truck down the West Side bike path along the Hudson and killed eight people. Officials call the attack terrorism.

You might think candy and hijinks slightly frivolous just a few hours after such a cruel crime. But as Anita Durst, who brought a dozen 13-year-olds from a school to the Halloween parade, told The New York Times, "Life has to go on."

In his 1940 poem, "Musée des Beaux Arts," W.H. Auden said:

"About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position; how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;"

This week, just walking along — working, laughing, coming and going, living as usual — could seem like an act of faith and sanity in the face of fear. Great cities— and none are greater than New York — just keep going.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.