On Monday I took a trip into the city to see the 9/11 Memorial. I've never been to Ground Zero, and the last time I was in the area was just a couple weeks before the attacks.
The 9/11 attacks are something I think I will never be able to wrap my mind around. I saw a professor speak at NYU and unfortunately I forgot his name, but he studied generations. Many professionals who study generations believed that my generation would be called "the 9/11 generation" because the attacks would define us and we would be so affected by them. What they were surprised to find was how little we were affected by 9/11. Of course, every person is different, and everyone experiences things in his or her own way. Some were affected more than others.
I was in third grade when the towers fell. I look back on that time and I really do think that kids my age were sheltered and protected from the horrors of what happened. I'm not saying this is a bad or good thing, but what I do know is that it has taken me a long time to really go over in my head what happened to our country and seek out the facts.
As an 8-year-old, I understood 9/11 was the start of a period of incredible paranoia and intense nationalism. Then, I probably wasn't affected so much by what happened to the towers and the people who died in the attacks, but by what came after. I remember that Halloween--when I had to ask my parents for permission to eat the candy I got from trick-or-treating, for fear that some might have been poisoned or something. I remember the first business trip my father took after September 11. My best friend at the time told me over the phone she thought I was crazy for not being more freaked out about my father going on an airplane. I remember the hundreds of tv ads for American flags to put outside your house and on car antennas.
The 9/11 Memorial was beautiful. It's a shame it has to exist.
Tickets are free (though they do ask for donations). To go, however, you have to make a reservation in advance. This can be done online. I guess it depends on the day, time and the number of people in your party, but my mom and I decided to go 9 o'clock the night before and had no trouble getting two tickets for the 11 am reservation. They let people enter the memorial in half-hour installments, and the line got a lot longer by early afternoon. We didn't have to wait at all, though there may be a slight hold-up at security.
The first think you notice when you enter are the swamp white oak trees. They are beautiful and full and placed in dozens of neat rows. They change color in the fall, so I'd love to go back later this year and see that. The trees will also never be identical. They will not all be the same height and same color during fall. The 9/11 Memorial website
notes that this is "a physical reminder that they are living individuals," and I thought that was beautiful.
Each fountain lies in the footprint of the Twin Towers. The waterfalls are huge, and there is a pit at the center that seems bottomless. It's a very powerful thing to behold.
It seemed appropriate it was raining that day...
Along the fountains, the names of all September 11 victims as well as the names of the six people who died in the WTC bombing in 1993. Off to the side there are a set of computers that allow you to look up names and they tell you where the names are located. I was particularly impressed with this feature. When we looked up the name of a family friend, the computers didn't just tell us the location of the name engraving. They told you a little bit about the person behind the name--their date of birth, where they lived, etc. Some had pictures. It's nice to know those who died during the attacks aren't reduced to some objective number.
That building behind the fountain will be the 9/11 museum. It is supposed to open later this year--I will definitely come back to see it.
Though the museum was closed, there was a visitor's center with a movie playing, a picture timeline of the attacks and some artifacts found in the rubble, including a wallet and someone's wedding band.
Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone.
Labels: 9/11, memorial, september 11, twin towers, world trade center