Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Visit to the National September 11th Museum

We are almost a week past the 13th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  Like every year, it's a solemn day, we reflect upon that day, think about where we were and also say a prayer for those who were lost, as well as those who have stepped up to defend the United States by wearing the uniform.

For those of you who haven't been to New York City recently, the development of the World Trade Center has made great strides and progress.  The National September 11th Memorial opened in 2011 on the 10th Anniversary, One World Trade Center will be occupied by the end of the year and the National September 11th Museum has opened. It was a priority to visit as soon as I could after it opened, and I got that chance on July 1, with a close friend of mine who had served in the military in response to the attacks of September 11th.

You enter the museum pavilion on the memorial plaza and after going through airport style security (yes, body scanners), you begin your descent down a series of ramps and escalators to the bedrock; 7 floors below ground.

As you begin your descent, you are shown pictures of people's reactions on that day, along with audio stories of where people were on 9-11. It is a very haunting experience that gave me chills.

After passing through that entry exhibit, you are about three stories above the cavernous memorial hall (pictured above) where you gaze upon the Last Column - called that because it was the final piece of World Trade Center steel removed from the ground; bringing an early end to the cleanup of Ground Zero. It stands tall in front of the exposed slurry wall, (aka bathtub) which held back the Hudson River. After passing by some pictures and the mangled steel where the planes impacted, you descend closer to the bedrock, passing directly next to the Survivors' Stairs.

On the bedrock level are the main exhibits - the mangled firetruck, the destroyed elevator motor, the exposed foundations of the Twin Towers, the bedrock and various cultural depictions. From there the content gets quite emotional. Located under the footprint of the South Tower, In Memoriam gives biographies, pictures and obituaries of the nearly 3000 souls who were lost on that day, there is an area behind a wall, which is the repository for the remains thar are either unidentified or continue to be found.

Located under the footprint of the North Tower, most importantly, is the main exhibit - the history, recounting, reasons and reactions to that day. Many of the collections cause emotions to come up and it produced a few tears from us, as a result of the audio, the visual captures, the missing signs and the various items left behind on that day. The 9-11 cross and the behind glass composites of the collapse are also in this area.

We spent over 3 hours in the National September 11th Museum, exploring, reading, recalling, reflecting and even crying. I knew it was going to be a punch in the gut to go, and it definitely was.  That said, I highly recommend a visit. Those who built and organized this museum did an amazing job and it is a beautiful remembrance of those who died on that day, while also reminding museum goers to never forget what happened in America on September 11, 2001.

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