Jun 9, 2012

Experiencing Ground Zero: The 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial, New York  City, Monday, May 21, 202

Monday, May 21 dawned cool and rainy, conditions that added a certain poignancy to our visit to the site of the defining tragedy of our time, the place they call Ground Zero.

In the 30 or so years before September 11, 2001, tourists flocked to this place to see the iconic towers of the World Trade Center, maybe even ride to the top floors, and perhaps dine among the clouds in the Windows on the World Restaurant.  Now that the towers are gone, along with thousands of lives, the tourists keep coming.  Only our gaze no longer looks up to the now empty sky, but down into the gaping void where the towers once stood.  The names of those who died that awful day live on, carved into granite surrounding the twin pools.  That misty morning the raindrops rested appropriately like tears next to the names on the monument.

I found the memorial quiet in the midst of the bustling city, and even with the rumble of the construction on the new towers going on nearby. . .

  I found it beautiful, a fitting and respectful tribute to those who died.  I found it a solemn place, one that led me to reflection. . .

 Three times, I found myself moved to the point of tears.  Once, when I saw the bouquet left by a widowed wife for her husband. .  .

Again when I noticed for the first time  the acknowledgment of the unborn children who died with their mothers and thought of my own wife and second child on the way. . .

. . .and last while watching the short video in the gift shop where relatives of the victims shared their stories.

I wasn't sure how I'd react to being on some of the most sacred ground that can be found in America.  This isn't yet history like Gettysburg, where all those that could long remember what they did there are long gone.  This is fresh, and for many who knew and lost someone here, the wounds are undoubtedly still palpable even ten and years and more on.

"Supremo" at the 9-11 Memorial during a break in the rain showers.
And then again, for the kids, it really is, already history.  They were just babies when the towers came down and the world changed into the shape they now take for granted as normal.  But it was an important Experience for them to have nonetheless--perhaps all the more important because they didn't live through it. We who can never forget must make sure that they learn, understand, and remember too.

The Survivor Tree.  This was the only tree to survive at the site of the collapse of the twin World Trade Center towers.  It was removed and kept alive and growing in a nursery before being returned and replanted here at the memorial.  The students gather to look at this remarkable symbol of survival and resilience, and "Free Spirit" reaches out to touch it's battle scarred bark.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!