It’s late March, which means that flowers are starting to sprout in Fort Greene Park, like the one to the left. But this isn’t just any daffodil.
Five and a half years ago, shortly after September 11, 2001, Netherlands resident Hans van Waardenburg wanted to do something for the grieving citizens of New York City. So he donated half a million daffodil bulbs to NYC, as a gift from the City of Rotterdam.
Several parks groups coordinated 10,000 volunteers who planted 250,000 bulbs on October 20th, the first day of planting. This work is known as the Daffodil Project. It gave stunned New Yorkers something concrete to do. That next spring, the flowers burst into bloom and surprised us as we read news articles about the six-month commemoration ceremonies. They were yellow, the color of remembrance. It was perfect.
The once-thick spreads of yellow have thinned over the years. But seeing them emerge again reminds me that once, not so long ago, citizens of the world poured out their hearts and love to my city and the United States. Yes, our leader squandered most of that global empathy, but the moment existed. The people of the U.S. were genuinely grateful and our hearts were open to others. And I have faith that that moment might exist again.