Ground Zero

I feel I’ll forever think of the events of September 11, 2001 when I hear the phrase, ground zero. I wasn’t familiar with it prior to that. But while listening to language expert Ben Zimmer on NPR’s Talk of the Nation today, I learned it’s been in use since the 1940’s (with respect to Hiroshima). And it would seem it’s used regularly for many other scenarios, and not in a negative sense. I’m glad of that. A phrase shouldn’t be lassoed with such heavy connotations. But for me, ground zero means not only tragedy, but hope, and compassion, given the way first responders and others came to the site. And it evokes a strong feeling of connection as only events such as that can. What about you? Do you use ground zero for other situations? Or like me, do you reserve it in your mind for 9/11 only?

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3 thoughts on “Ground Zero

  1. I have heard it used before, although I can’t pinpoint the first time or to what exactly it referred. Depending on how it’s used, I’ve heard it refer to the starting point or the heart of something, and not only for negative things. Now, however, I do always thing of the 9/11 ground zero first whenever I hear the phrase.

  2. I do remember hearing it in reference to Hiroshirma, but I had forgotten that. Living so close to the Pentagon on 9/11, I tend to relate the term to 9/11. I was living in Northern VA then, and just happened to be off work that day, which was both a curse and a blessing. It is hard to believe it has been ten years. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Ground Zero took on a whole new meaning that day. Thanks, Sue.

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