I Remember. My Visit to the 9/11 Memorial.

The moment I walked into the 9/11 memorial, I knew I had to mention more about it than just a passing photo. So, I saved it for today. Here are my thoughts upon visiting the 9/11 Memorial in NYC.
This place was quite the conundrum. It puzzled me.  There were huge crowds outside. People walking around New York. Horns honking, strangers rubbing elbows, people passing by on crowded sidewalks. But the crowds around Albany Street were almost magnetic, being drawn to the memorial like moths to a flame.
As we approached the blocks close to the memorial, I noticed we were suddenly in a sea of people all going there. Together.
Approaching the memorial.  That is Freedom Tower being built in the background.
 We got to the start of the line, and began waiting. Stepping forward a few steps at a time. Security checks. Check your ticket. Keep stepping in line. Eventually, we reached the entrance of the memorial.
Waiting in line.
It happened without notice. There was no announcement that we were entering an area of serenity and reflection. No announcement to be quiet out of respect, but as we entered the gates, it hit us. We met remembrance there inside.
The space was beautiful.  It was trees and landscaping. And then, you walked a little bit.  You saw the reflecting pools. They are quite breathtaking. HUGE gaping holes in the ground where the towers once stood, chasms full of gushing water. I imagined that the tears from those who lost loved ones could fill a thousand of these giant pools.
Surrounding the pools were heavy, strong metal beams that were engraved with names. Names of those who gave their lives. Names of those who were surprised as planes flew through their office.  Now that I’m a working adult, I can’t imagine this.  I can’t imagine sipping my coffee at my computer and something horrific like that happening.
There were names of those who were trying to evacuate, but were lost in the falling tower rubble.  Names of those on a flight just trying to travel. There were names of those who were trying to rescue others. Firefighters, policemen, heroes. There were names. Endless names.  I slid my hands over the names.
Interesting to me, the names were cutouts in the metal. Empty space. The hollow names show the gaps. Gaps in families where people are gone. Children without parents. Wives without husbands. Babies without momma’s. Dogs who don’t understand why their owner never came home that day. Indeed, those names are voids, not just voids in the metal, but voids in the lives left behind.
Like everyone else old enough to remember, September 11, 2001 was a memorable day for me.

I remember exactly where I was sitting (in Mrs. Goss’ Arkansas History class.  I was the teacher’s aid, so I got to sit at the kidney shaped table at the side of the room).  I was in 9th grade. I remember someone busting in the door and telling Mrs. Goss to turn on the news. We watched. It looked like a movie trailer, not something real. When it was time to change classes, the bells didn’t ring. We didn’t move. We were all watching. We watched as the second plane hit, as people jumped out of windows, as towers fell, as the dust covered people ran for their lives.  I think it was Diane Sawyer explaining the situation over the airwaves. Eventually, we changed classes. I felt numb.  I felt confused. I felt scared.  Then lunch came.  My friends and I were talking about it, trying to make sense of it all.  As much sense as 9th graders can bring to international politics and terrorist attacks.  


When it was time to go home, I remember my mom picking me up.  As soon as I got in the car, she hugged me.  Tight. Long. She had the radio on.  No music, only talking. We got home and sat at the table.  I attempted homework, but it was all eyes on the TV.  All eyes on New York. All eyes on America. The next weeks were a blur.  At school, our backpacks and lunchboxes were seized.  They were afraid of what we might bring in with us.  We bought American flags.  We watched people be pulled from the rubble.  We weren’t there, but we were all a part of it.
And then, a couple weeks ago, there I was in New York City, in the midst of this bustling city, rubbing my hands over names. Names of people I don’t know.  Names of people my heart hurts for.  I miss these people. I wish these people were still here.  I want to jump in those pools and let the water wash it all away. The world before that day felt so different.
Now, when I hear “God Bless America” I tear up. Now, when I fly I am nervous. Now, when 9/11 comes around, there is something to remember. Today, we remember.

If you want to remember with videos, check out these videos of the live footage as it happened.  I am taken back there as soon as I hear their voices.  The second video shows the second plane hitting.


Comments

  1. So cool that you saw that. Someday I want to go!

  2. Written so beautifully! I’m in tears at my desk… Remembering…

  3. God has blessed you with such an ability to show your feelings on paper…..I am so proud to be your mom. Love you! What a tribute to all those who suffered that day and continue suffering today.

  4. Thank you! Your words left me teary-eyed and with a giant lump in my throat.

    I won’t ever forget.

    God bless America!

  5. Thank you for sharing. Even though I remembered today, your words brought all of those feelings rushing back and then the rush of tears. Thank you for helping me really remember…

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