Every few weeks I sit down at my trusty IPad and pen a blog for one of the two different blog pages to which I regularly contribute. Sometimes I come to the table with brilliant ideas (or at least mildly interesting), other times it’s a struggle to come up with anything worthwhile for the readers. This blog, however, was a no-brainer.
Last week I spent three days in the Big Apple. I stayed at the ever-faithful Holiday Inn (HI) near Wall Street. HI’s central location placed me within walking distance to everything on my must-see list. One of the sites on my list was the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. Those of you who know me will remember that following 9/11 I worked with the FBI for four years as part of a Joint Terrorism Task Force. As such, you might wonder why I waited so long to visit this memorial. I’ve pondered that question myself. I guess the honest answer is that I wasn’t ready to see it. I knew it would be a sobering experience, one that would undoubtedly whisk me back to that fateful fall day in 2001. And similarly to some historic personal family tragedy, like the loss of a loved one, it was a memory that I wasn’t sure I was ready to revisit. The bottom line is, I’m glad I went.
My visit began with a stop at the memorial waterfall/reflecting pool. Situated in the center of what was once the footprint of the Twin Towers, the waterfall is as massive as it is beautiful. A deep four-sided sparkling chasm surrounded by a bronze ledge on which the names of every victim from the 1993 and 2001 terror attacks has been inscribed. At the bottom lies a shallow pool, reflecting images of the many tall buildings nearby. This breathtaking exterior feature of the memorial was my first glimpse into the unimaginable size and scope of the attack. Even now, the number of lives directly impacted by this senseless act of terror is still hard to comprehend.
My next stop was to purchase a ticket for entry into the museum itself. Once inside I quickly realized that the artistically styled building is only a small part of what is housed below ground. Haunting images, video, sound bites, and memorabilia fill several subterranean levels of what was once the substructure of the World Trade Center. All told, I spent two hours touring the past and could’ve have stayed longer. The City of New York should be extremely proud of this tasteful and enduring tribute to the men and women who perished on September 11, 2001, and to those who gave their lives trying to save them. Visiting the memorial was an emotional experience, reminding me of the horror, sadness, vulnerability, and rage I felt on the day our very lives came to a standstill. The day freedom itself was attacked.
Do I recommend visiting the 9/11 memorial? Absolutely. Will you be changed by what you will see there? Without question.
My first visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was both a sobering reminder of what evil looks like and a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.