Saturday, October 1, 2011

Visiting the National September 11th Memorial

Prior to September 11, 2001, I had been to the World Trade Center a numerous amount of times and then after that fateful day in American History, I did not visit. Knowing what stood there, knowing how it was destroyed and also knowing the political wrangling over those 16 acres, I found it very difficult to go. Every time I would look at the New York City skyline, the damage was as clear as day.

Ten years later, we see some evidence of progress and closure: the National September 11th Memorial has opened, the National September 11th Museum will be open in less than a year and the Freedom Tower is starting to tower over Lower Manhattan, with steel now reaching the 85th floor. With the approach of the 10th Anniversary last month, I decided to visit the memorial once there was an opening (To visit, one must acquire timed entry tickets on the Memorial's website), and today was that day.

As one walks around the Memorial's entrance, the evidence of progress and construction on the World Trade Center site is apparent. Not only is the Freedom Tower, aka 1WTC, well under construction, additional towers are being built and the museum's opening is less than a year away! Entering the memorial, the security is quite steep, as photo IDs are checked, the tickets are checked multiple times and scanned, and one goes through security similar to how it's done at American airports (minus the TSA and body scanners).

One enters the site on the southwest corner, near the oak groves. At this point, the construction noise is loud. I do not believe this was intended, but it's going to be the norm for a few years. Closer to the Memorial Pools, the volume of the waterfalls is heard over everything else. Their roar truly allows one to reflect, remember and pray. Each Memorial Pool is built within the footprint of the Twin Towers. Water falls down 30 feet and then another 20 feet into a void in the center of the pool. Ringing each pool are the names of those who perished. They are grouped by location, company and relationship(s). In looking at the Memorial Pools and knowing they were once the location of two 110 story towers, it further hits, at that point, the massive level of destruction and human loss America endured on that day. To this day, nearly 1000 souls who perished at the World Trade Center have not been discovered.

I was very moved by the National September 11 Memorial, its magnitude and setting, as well as the fact that it's a beautiful monument and a solemn place of remembrance and reflection. Over time, it will rival the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery as being one of America's most hallowed grounds and most sacred places of remembrance. It is for those reasons that the leadership of the 9-11 Memorial/Museum needs to devise and enforce of code of conduct. Seeing people running around the grounds like they're a park or taking "crazy pose" pictures like they're in Times Square or Disney World is highly inappropriate for a place where nearly 3000 souls perished and nearly 1000 souls have not been found. In time, I hope that issue is addressed and as the World Trade Center site nears completion, I am confident this site will become one of New York's and America's most visited, and most revered.

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