The 911 Memorial
Every time I come to New York to visit my son, I try to add something new to my list of things to see and do. With the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy of the 911 events fresh on my mind, I decided to brave the winds and the wait to see the new memorial. If you want to go, reserve your tickets online (free or you can make a donation) so you can get in, and then arrive 30 minutes early as you have to wind your way down Church St. and around the WTC construction to get to the entrance.
Depending on when you go, you will most certainly pass by the construction site and be amazed at the scale, and you may also pass by the Occupy Wall Street protesters, if they are still camped out. I don’t really get their mission, found them to be inconsistent in the messages they were yelling to the passersby, and in general think it is not an effective way to make change happen. Drum circles sound cool, but what next?
Once you are through the gates, you will enter into a very spacious and serene park. It’s spacious because it is designed to have the memorial reflecting pools in the locations of the prior north and south towers, with the new WTC buildings going up behind them.
The reflecting pools are a bit gut wrenching to look at. They are vast holes in the ground, and sort of give you the feeling of the buildings falling into the ground on that tragic day. I’ve philosophized with a friend whether a more fitting memorial would have been something rising up from the ground to convey a sense of overcoming adversity. But in the end I personally concluded that the pools are a visual way to convey the gaping holes that day left – in our hearts and in our country. And that perhaps visiting there isn’t supposed to convey overcoming, but merely ensure that we never forgot that magnitude of loss.
As is typical in New York, there were visitors from all over the world there visiting the site, paying respects, taking it all in. It’s an important thing to do, I think, and I’m glad I took an hour to see it.
Seeing the policeman and security guards all over the place, especially outside the glass structure that houses some of the original beams from the north and south towers, makes you pause and silently offer your thanks for what they do, your sorrow for the friends and family they no doubt lost.
And as I left the memorial to go meet my son at his office near Wall St., I couldn’t help but notice the irony of images – these guys are all working hard on the new construction at the WTC. Their jobs may not be glamorous, but they are showing up to work each day to earn a living – instead of showing up to drum at the park across the street. It is a crazy time in the world, that’s for sure!