2001-11-17 / Columnists

From the G-Man

"Realizing What
By Gary G. Toms

"Realizing What’s Important"

Hey people! I don’t know where to begin. After the tragic events of the past week, I’m both numb and deeply saddened. The office was bombarded with calls from news agencies from all around the world seeking information on the crash of Flight 587. Howard Schwach, Susan Locke and myself were pulled in a number of directions for interviews and commentary by both radio and television stations. Many might view our fifteen minutes of fame as a major promotional opportunity for the paper, but I can assure you that was the last thing on our minds.

We were genuinely concerned with the safety of those who were missing and mourning those who were killed on the ground. Susan and Howie, who have lived on the West end most of their lives, have a relationship with many people from the Belle Harbor area. The pain was etched in their faces when the story broke, and they feared for the safety of family and friends, as did many others in the community.

The media flooded different sections of Belle Harbor. All were in search of eyewitnesses, friends of those missing or killed in the aftermath, and anyone who could offer a possible theory as to what caused the crash. Some were well behaved, and others were extremely rude and told to go away, as mothers shuttled frightened children into their homes. I can understand going after a story, but there is no room for disrespect or unprofessional behavior, and there was plenty of both flying around as the days progressed.

While some acted like vultures, certain segments of the media were very kind and supportive in the wake of the tragedy. Most of the radio stations from outside of New York were gracious and very understanding about the situation. Rather than focusing on the crash, these outlets were more concerned with the residents and how they were coping after these devastating events. They focused on the human aspect of the story, and they are to be commended for doing so.

It’s getting to the point where you don’t know what to expect when you wake up in the morning. Yes, many have made the decision, with the help of the President Bush, to try and get back to a normal way of life. That’s hard to do when you are hesitant to board a plane. That’s hard to do when the person you have loved for 10, 20 or 30 years is ripped from your life after a terrorist attack. That’s hard to do when we are constantly being told that America is on high alert for terrorist attacks that could come at any moment. Still, we strive to move forward.

I’ll close with this. There are so many people out there who are starting to realize, for the first time, just what is truly important in life. The attack on the WTC and the crash of Flight 587 illustrate that we can lose someone in an instant. Suddenly, a couple fighting over the remote control seems trivial. People are starting to look their at relationships with a new sense of respect and deeper emotion. Many are realizing what it means to have a special someone in their lives. I’m sure that even those who were contemplating divorce are now having second thoughts, especially if they have children and worry about their safety.

No one knows what will happen in the coming months, but I’ll tell you what needs to happen. We all need to find a way to get closer to those who mean the most to us. Husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, relatives and friends need to hug, hold and appreciate each other more these days. That phone call or visit you receive from them could very well be their last. Once they’re gone, it will be too late to tell them how much they meant.

I ask that all of you find a way to tell someone you love them, and say it from the heart. I work with a man who describes his relationship with his wife, son, daughter and grandson with the smile of an angel. He meets his wife for lunch as often as the sun sets in Rockaway. At this point in time, this is what we all should strive for. Hug your children, your relatives, your man or your lady a little tighter. After all is said and done, that’s what really matters these days.

See you next week!

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