The lone spire that has risen where the twin towers once stood was lit with the French colors as a symbol of New York’s kinship with Paris now that 9/11 had been followed by 11/13.
But the people of New York seemed to imagine themselves safe from also having a Friday 13 that was searingly beyond unlucky. The streets of Times Square were packed with theatergoers at the very hour when terrorists should have been most likely to strike if they wanted to follow the attacks in Paris with similar horrors in Manhattan.Not a soul among them appeared apprehensive. Nobody in the bustling crowd seemed even to notice the news ribbon bulletins about the attack in Paris. “PARIS ATTACKS…MULTIPLE EXPLOSIONS…ASSAULT ON BATACAN CENTER.”At the theater on West 46th Street where the sold-out musical Hamilton was showing, the usual line formed of folks hoping for cancellations.The man at the door warned that there were none, but four tickets did become available at the very last moment. That was more likely because the original holders were stuck in traffic than because they had been frightened off by the events in France. “Yea! Yea! Yea!” exclaimed a young woman who was one of the new recipients, jumping up and down, in total bliss, making Paris seem as far away as a city could be.But of course it is not. New York remained in as much danger on 11/13 as it did on 9/11 and the only reason we have not suffered more attacks is the tireless efforts of its unheralded guardians. Among them is at least one cop who has not taken a real break since the towers fell 14 years ago. They also include a host of former soldiers and Marines who served multiple deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. These soldiers turned cops now continue fighting a war that seems to have no end.And the guardians of the city have a close and continuing bond with the guardians of the nation, most particularly with special-forces operators. The cop who has gone 14 years almost non-stop did pause the other night to stroll the city with a special-ops team. They came upon somebody on the High Line who had set up a telescope and they took turns gazing up at the stars, recalling when they had done the same for a glimpse of peace in faraway combat zones.The stargazers then returned to their duties on the troubled earth. The cop and his fellow officers in New York have long been aware that the city could be hit by an attack such as the one that has now struck Paris.Three years ago, the NYPD issued an exhaustive document titled “Active Shooter: Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation.” The report listed numerous past incidents. Case No. 64 was the November 2008 attack in Mumbai, India.“Ten militants launched a series of coordinated shooting and bombing attacks throughout Mumbai, killing 188 people and wounding 372 others,” the report notes.The attacks in Paris may have involved as few as eight gunmen or by some accounts even less. The guardians in New York and elsewhere in America have broken up numerous crews that size.“Anybody want to talk about Muslim spying today?” a senior cop asked on Friday evening.But more crews are sure to form, thanks to an ISIS strategy of using the Internet to inspire jihadis in other lands, then letting them do the rest.“Terrorism has gone Amway,” the senior cop said.And such a group in America would have had an even easier time acquiring weapons than do their murderous counterparts in France. Thanks to the National Rifle Association and its friends in Congress, simply being on the terrorist watchlist does not bar you from acquiring an assault rifle. One federal database might keep a guy off an airplane while another would clear him to arm himself with enough firepower for a massacre.At night’s end, New York and the rest of America got through 11/13 without an attack. But next come 11/14 and 11/15 and all the other days with no discernible end.And from dawn to dawn the guardians will be keeping constant vigilance so we feel so safe that a young woman in Manhattan can literally leap for joy with her hot ticket and bound into a theater as crowded as the one in Paris, where some 90 innocents had just been massacred. As the theaters emptied out into the street and everybody headed home, that lone spire downtown continued to glow with the blue, white, red in kinship with the red, white and blue.