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WTC attacks etched on New York psyche

US: Some days New Yorkers look up and remark wistfully that the sky is the same blue as on Sept. 11, 2001. Other days they look up at the sound of an airplane, momentarily worried that it may be flying too low.

New Yorkers, often characterized by outsiders as rude, if not hard-hearted, were dramatically changed by the hijacked plane attacks that felled the World Trade Center towers a decade ago.

Many are anxious, some are angry and most are saddened, yet New Yorkers seem to feel more caring and compassion toward one another, say experts who studied responses to the attacks.

Most vivid is a reflexive fear response to anything that sounds or looks remotely like an attack, they say. Just two months after Sept. 11, an American Airlines jet crashed into a seaside neighborhood in Queens, killing 265 people and scaring many residents into thinking another assault was underway.

Now thunderstorms, the recent earthquake and even unexpected fireworks displays trigger frightened concern.

“One clear-cut reaction when the earthquake hit was ‘Oh my God, it’s terrorism,’” said Judith Richman, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studied the impact of Sept. 11 on mental health.

“It’s in the back of people’s minds. They fear it’s another attack.”

Yet people in New York can show more care toward each other than they once did. New York, Friday, Reuters

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