Early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, JP residents went about their business under the same clear blue sky that, just a few miles away, held passenger planes hijacked by madmen.
Within hours, jet fighters were buzzing JP. The neighborhood was wracked with horror at the atrocities unfolding at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and with the fear that still more murder was to come.
Some residents chose to vote in a Congressional election scheduled for that day, a tribute to a democracy that theocratic terrorists could not stop. Vigils were held for the thousands of victims. Firefighters, police officers and medical workers headed to New York to lend a hand.
JP also responded to the long-term fallout of Sept. 11. Local officials criticized the civil liberties erosions of the Patriot Act at a JP forum. Protests were held against the seemingly endless wars that followed. The local post office is now named for a Marine who was killed in action in Iraq.
But by and large, JP was insulated from the international impact.
What terrorists could not do to the USA in the past decade has been done by fellow Americans instead. The economy was wrecked by the likes of Countrywide Financial, whose former local office was picketed by JP protestors. Insane killings came to JP streets not from fundamentalist Muslims, but rather from the drug gangs that flourish in ruined economies.
Even that damage has been contained in a neighborhood where most property owners are well-off and policing is solid. The angst of the past decade has largely been personal and private. JP still looks much like pre-Sept. 11 America, a place where disaster was the stuff of the highest-grossing movie in history, not a fact of life.
JP has many blessings to count. Our daily life is its own sort of triumph—if also something of an illusion.