After my crazy week I got to spend a wonderful weekend in New York; not for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, my husband was running the New York City half marathon. While we were there we decided to take our girls to see the 9/11 Memorial.
To visit you must get passes in advance. As soon as he signed up for the race, Kevin went online; passes are free but limited so we knew we would have to plan ahead.
The entrance is on a busy street corner and as we stood in the long line that zigzagged through the security checkpoints, we were aware this was still a construction zone. We gazed up in awe at the new Freedom Towers that are being built. Every now and then you would hear machinery banging and clanking, and whistles being blown for blasting.
Once through security, the line brings you out next to the West Side Highway, so now you hear the heavy traffic thundering by and horns being honked by impatient drivers. I remember thinking this was not really a peaceful place for a memorial.
Inside the gates you pass through lines of trees, they look woebegone now, but I’m sure they will look beautiful in the spring. The biggest part of the memorial is the North and South Pools; giant square waterfalls over reflecting pools, built in the footprint of the North and South Towers.
We walked over to the South Pool and began to wander round, looking at the names of all those that died etched in the bronze parapets that surround the pool. Between the two pools, there are the names of all the people that died in the Twin Towers, The Pentagon, on flights 11, 175, 77 and 93, the first responders and the people that died in the terrorist attack on Feb. 26, 1993.
I could not help but think back to that day; our youngest was about to turn 4 and our oldest was 6. I remember my disbelief and shock as I watched the TV and saw the second plane hit the towers. I wanted to hold onto my girls tight, I knew the world was forever changed.
As I let my fingers trail over the names, I could not help but wonder how many of them had children they would never see grow up. How many left devastated families behind? Many of the that ran into the towers that day must have known they may not make it out alive, yet they ran in anyway.
After spending time at both pools, we walked over to the Survivor Tree. The tree was found in the rubble after the attacks, it was reduced to an eight-foot stump. It was nursed back to health and planted in a park in New York. Before it could be replanted in the Memorial, a storm uprooted it, but once again it survived. It now stands more than 30 feet tall and has pride of place in the Memorial. What a beautiful representation of our country.
As we walked towards the exit, something suddenly struck me; the whole time we had been there, it was quiet. Waiting in line on the way in it was obvious we were in a city, but once we were by the pools it was quiet and calm. Kevin noticed it, too.
One day the construction will be completed and the Memorial will be fully open and accessible. I hope many more people will go visit, yes it is a sad place, but it also fills you with a sense of hope.