2001年のアメリカ同時多発テロから早16年。当時、カナダにひとり高校留学したばかりで、英語もままらなかった私は、テレビの速報を見ても意味が分からず、これは映画の一場面なのかとはじめは思い、それにしてはあまりにも周りがざわついているので、何か事件なのだと気づいたのであった。カナダの片田舎にいて、当時はインターネットを使うこともままならず、事件の詳細も、かなりあとになって英語が少しわかるようになるころまで理解していなかったのだが、周りの人の様子に煽られるように、恐ろさだけは感じていた。

その後大学生になり、高校留学以外でまったくひとりで旅に出かけた先が、ニューヨークだった。2007年のことである。写真こそ手元に残っていないが、当時はまだ、ビルが倒壊したあたりは、たしか白い囲いに覆われていて、そこに人々がたくさんのメッセージを残していた。いまだに強い印象を残して、私の頭にその光景は焼き付いている。

それから10年が経ち、2017年夏。再びニューヨークを訪れた。そして、グラウンド・ゼロにも立ち寄った。様子は10年前とは全く異なり、2つの大きな、飲み込まれそうな深さの噴水がそこにはあった。その時の感情をどう表してよいのだろう。吸い込まれそうな水の流れを目にしながら、この地に吸い込まれ、散っていた犠牲者の魂のことを思い、そして、水という生命力を感じさせるものの力なのだろうか、なぜか、すっと背筋が伸びるような気持ちにもなり、相反するようだが、吸い込まれてはいけない、この生のエネルギーをもって、屈しない精神を持たないといけないのだ、という気持ちにさせられた。

事件から16年が経ったが、いまだ解決していないことも多い。むしろ、テロが自分とは離れたところにある、というところから、自分の身の回りでも起こりかねない、というところまで、問題が深刻化してしまった16年だ。とはいえ、私ができることは何だろう。大きなことはできなくても、この時感じた、背筋がすっと伸びるような、人の死を無駄にせず私なりの貢献を、と思った、その気持ちを大事にするべきなのだろう。

2017年夏。自由の女神を見に行くフェリーから望んだニューヨークの景色。

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