During a recent trip to New York we visited the 9/11 Memorial. It wasn’t something I was necessarily looking forward to. Like everyone in America, the images of that horrific day—the planes, the jumping people, the crumbling buildings—will be etched in my heart and mind forever. But I knew I had to be there, especially with 9/11/13 approaching.
After going through several security checkpoints—showing our passes and ID each time—we ended up in an airport-type security with metal detectors and lots of Homeland Security officers. (Under the circumstances, I had no problem with this…)
Once past the final checkpoint you go through a gate and onto the grounds of the Memorial.
The first thing you hear is the rushing water of the two spectacularly beautiful square-shaped water fountains. Each of the pools, sitting where the Towers once stood, are nearly an acre in size and feature the “largest manmade waterfalls in North America”.
Each fountain is surrounded by the names of every person who died in both the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. It’s a stunning reminder that 9/11/01 resulted in not only in the largest loss of life from a foreign/Islamic attack on American soil, but also the largest deaths among rescue personnel in American history.
While taking pictures, I noticed a woman placing a white rose on one of the names…
It’s easy to look at the beauty of the fountains and forget that each of those names represents so much more to so many people–family, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers…Throughout the day, I thought about the woman at the fountain, wondering who “Philip William” was to her…
Along the sidewalks and green grass is a reminder of the resiliency of life: the lovely Survivor Tree.
Originally planted in the 1970s, the Callery Pear tree was saved from the wreckage of the World Trade Center with “snapped roots and a blackened trunk”. It was nursed back to health and replanted. In the spring, the tree is filled with white flowers; in summer, it is lush and green. (And living up to its name, the Survivor Tree also survived another NY tragedy, last year’s Hurricane Sandy.)
Finally, looming overhead is the new One World Tower.
I tried not to hate it. I tried to discount the name—“One World”—and the creepy pyramid shape you see at certain angles…
Instead, I tried to think of the many ironworkers that had been employed during the building project, and all the upcoming jobs the Tower will provide. I thought of America’s die-hard spirit, and the resistance to never give up and never give in to the Islamic terrorists of the world—and I thought about the importance of rebuilding what those bastards destroyed, even bigger and better. And then I remembered what could have been in its place, and the outrage that ensued when the “Ground Zero Mosque” was being considered. Ultimately, I was reminded of the principled spirit that has always thrived within the American people. When push comes to shove, we will push back.
After leaving the Memorial, we took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. The last time my husband and I had been on the ferry was 1999. At the time we asked someone to take our picture with the Statue of Liberty behind us, but because the sun was in the way we turned around and took one of the cityscape instead. We ended up with a perfectly framed picture of us with the Twin Towers behind us, never imagining they wouldn’t be there the next time we were on the ferry.
Another interesting change between ‘then’ and ‘now’ was that a heavily armed Coast Guard boat followed the ferry to and from Staten Island.
Not sure why.
This year on 9/11/13, the entire world is a volatile mess and I haven’t even mentioned last year’s 9/11 attack on Benghazi. Some nights it’s difficult to sleep, knowing how uncertain life is, especially with so many in our government either with their heads in the sand or appeasing the people who live in the sand. I pray. A lot. Nonstop. But as always, I believe in prayer with action–and because of 9/11 Part 1 and 2, I will never live passively nor will I ever take for granted my life in America again.
Note from author: If you’re planning a trip to the 9/11 Memorial, I highly recommend you order tickets online ahead of time. It only costs $2 per person (“nonrefundable service fee”) and it is very much worth the effort. When we arrived at 2 p.m. there was a long line stretched almost around the block of people who didn’t have reserved tickets.