Scarred Britons won't give up their American dreams

War on Terrorism: New York
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The Independent US

Helen Micklewhite was taking her daughter to her first day at school in downtown Manhattan when she and four-year-old Niamh saw the dust cloud rising from the ashes of the World Trade Centre.

Mrs Micklewhite, 37, who moved from Britain to the United States 10 years ago when her husband, Dean, got a job in New York, cannot help but question whether the family should leave the city, but she feels that to do so would be a betrayal. "I would feel like the family would be running away and that this is the last thing New York needs," she said. "My husband really wants to leave the city because he feels for the family, as I do, but I feel that New York is 'home' to my children and that we would be deserting if we left."

"I instantly loved New York when I came here and consider it is not only my home but my two daughters' home. Of course I feel apprehension and I want to protect my family, but New York has given us everything, and I feel we would be betraying it."

Although she no longer uses public transport, Mrs Micklewhite shares the prevailing emotions among many British New Yorkers of loyalty and unity. Sasha Kelly, 32, a fashion director for Ralph Lauren's Outerwear label, said the attack brought on the sudden realisation that New York was home to her. "Security is incredibly tight and your identity is checked everywhere," said Ms Kelly, who is originally from Bristol. "I have to give proof of identity to enter my own home in Tribeca in downtown New York and I have never experienced such heavy police presence. But ironically, it has made me feel 'more' part of the USA and just made me want to stay."

Samoon Ahmad, 39, a psychiatrist at New York's Bellevue Hospital who has lived in New York, for 11 years, said the attack has made him more defiant about staying. "I have had a huge increase of patients, both in the hospital and in my private practice, and it [11 September] has triggered a lot of psychoses in vulnerable people but as I tell my patients, I don't think any of us should let fear beat us down," he said.

"It's been quite a depressing few months and the city has been desolate but the spirit of New York is a surviving spirit and I am certainly not going to let this stop my life."

David Armitage, a professor of history at Columbia University who relocated from Cambridge University in 1993, said: "The attack has brought the city together as well as created new divides. I feel the uptown and downtown divide greater than ever, as those who were near the World Trade Centre have an intimate experience of it while someone like me, who lives uptown, cannot relate as well."

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