9/11, and my visit to the World Trade Center Memorial

Today arrived, and a post that I’d been thinking about for a while more or less demanded to be written.

On my recent visit to New York, hubby and I went to the World Trade Center Memorial. I have a confession to make here. It wasn’t on my ‘to-do’ list. I don’t mean that I DIDN’T want to visit; it was just that hubby was far more keen than I was. So off we went.

I’m glad we did. It was one of the most moving places I’ve ever been to. It was also a strange experience. Let me try to explain why.

The Memorial is right in the midst of what is still a construction site. Cranes rise all around, the surrounding streets are dusty, there are hoardings everyhere. It’s a veritable maze to get to the entrance. Mad New York traffic passes by on all sides. But…once you are in there, it seems silent. Visitors are speaking quietly. The waterfalls that have been created in the footprints of the old towers roar a little, but not enough to drown out NYC, surely? And yet – it is wonderfully peaceful. No outside noise seems to get in.

In the footprint of each tower sits a waterfall and reflecting pool. The pools are each nearly an acre in size, and the waterfalls that cascade into them are the largest manmade ones in North America. We walked right round both pools, where the names of everyone who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are carved into bronze panels. Memorial Plaza itself is covered with beautiful swamp white oak trees. And rising majestically beside all this: the new towers. One World Trade Center, once it’s 408-foot-tall spire is complete, will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

(If you want to know more about the Memorial, click here).

I said moving, yet strange. I couldn’t imagine, as I stood there, what it must have been like that day, or afterwards. I didn’t know anyone who died in the attacks, or in London in 2005, or Boston this year. This is not a comment piece on the state of the world, the rights and wrongs of the West’s relationship with the Middle East, or anything like that. I just wanted to describe my visit, and how it made me feel.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a lump in my throat, for the huge loss of life. I also felt proud to belong to a people who could pull together in the aftermath: to rescue people, rebuild lives, and build something new – in every sense. Why is it that humankind can do such terrible things, and yet have the courage and compassion people showed that day, and every day? I guess if someone had the answer to that, these things would no longer happen.

As I craned my neck to gaze up at the new towers, they seemed like a defiant phoenix rising from the ashes. You achieved nothing, they seemed to say. Except for stupid, senseless loss of life. We are still here. We remember our dead. We build something more beautiful where destruction was.

The 9/11 Memorial is one of the most inspiring places I’ve been to.

This post is dedicated to all those who have lost their lives in terror attacks around the world.

Karen

Note (March 2014): this place has been on my mind again recently, as I’m doing a Creative Writing course assignment on it. That’s why I’ve featured this post on Julie Valerie’s blog hop.

Like to party? Hop along to the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.

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25 thoughts on “9/11, and my visit to the World Trade Center Memorial

  1. I have not visited the memorial yet but the flag’s at half mast today to honor those who died. You’ve asked the same questions I’ve wondered many times. How can there be such compassion right alongside such horrible loss of life? Perhaps we wouldn’t see the compassion for what it is without the tragedy…

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I always feel a bit of a fraud commenting on such earth-shattering events. In this case, I just wanted to write something about my visit, and pay tribute to those involved.
      Cheers for stopping by. xx

  2. Beautifully said Karen. I was on the NJ side of the river that horrific day, waiting along with so many other first responders, for the injured who were to be shuttled over from the City by ferry. Sadly, there were too few.

    I knew two of the men that perished that day. They were both Port Authority Police/Paramedics. One of those men actually steered me in the right direction of finding an EMT class, because I was clueless. I happened to walk up to his EMS Supervisor vehicle one day and inquired, never having met anyone in EMS before. He was the sweetest, most patient person. I will never forget him.

    I worked closely with the other officer’s son on many occasions as an EMT. He was one of my references on my job application. He has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a police officer himself. Too many good souls were lost that day.

    • Thanks Seumas. It’s always hard to know if people are going to like that kind of post, but I’m glad I wrote it now. I usually stick to the safer topics such as funny cats, taking the mickey out of my husband, etc! 😉

  3. Yup, so now, I’m crying.

    Beautiful post, Karen. Just beautiful. This paragraph really touched me because I think you captured so much in so few words:

    “As I craned my neck to gaze up at the new towers, they seemed like a defiant phoenix rising from the ashes. You achieved nothing, they seemed to say. Except for stupid, senseless loss of life. We are still here. We remember our dead. We build something more beautiful where destruction was.”

    And such a wonderful thing that you experienced quiet. That must have been amazing!

    (Thanks for adding this post to the Hump Day Blog Hop. Such a beautiful contribution to the Hop. Thank you.)

    • Thanks, Julie. Sorry for making you cry! Although I’m also pleased, because it means I got the feel of the place across. It was very moving. Even my big tattooed Scottish hubby was crying! 😉

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