Our last full day in New York began with mixed feelings. It has been ten years since that unimaginable day in September of 2001. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial was very different from what I expected.
If you are heading to NY and want to visit the 9/11 Memorial you will need to get a ticket which can be done on the website ahead of time. It is a free pass but you MUST have one to gain admittance to the memorial. Also do not expect to just walk up to the memorial, there were endless pathways of turning corners and snaking through security lines to get to the actual memorial. The Hubs and I discusses the need for security however I found the process of getting in to be very
very difficult. There is still quite a bit of construction going on in the immediate vacuity so there was a lot of construction noise as well.
The South Tower pool.
Once inside the memorial area there were many, many people. It was at times difficult to get up close to the edge of the fountains. It was an ebb and flow kind of people. The fountains were inspiring to look at but I could not help but stand a bit stilled by the memory of what the reality of this place is. For a moment I just stopped, before I knew it I was weeping. The memories of that terrible day just washed over me. I was just a visitor, what must it feel like to visit this place knowing that a loved one lost their life in the very spot. It is almost to difficult to comprehend.
The best word to describe the experience would be incongruent. It was at times like two different things were taking place in the same space that simply did not line up. Knowing what the memorial stood for and knowing that thousands of people lost their lives in this very spot it was a very different contrast from some of the variety of activities going on around the monument. There were small children running about, teenager laughing and standing in front of the monument getting there picture taken. Before I even realized what was happening the hubs had handed the camera to a passerby and we were having our picture taken in front of the monument as well. After the picture was snapped I thought to myself that in a place such as this it should be more introspective more respectful of the final resting place of so many people.
However another thought crept into my head as I was looking around at all the different people. For as horrible and indescribable as the 9/11 experience was for our nation, the fact that we were all standing there, that our nation had recovered and that praise God there have been no successful attacks to date spoke to the strength and reliance of our nation. The determination that we as Americans have practiced for hundreds of year overcoming all adversities and surviving the difficulties that at times evil brings our way. We did not just sit back on our wounded laurels. We picked up, cleaned up, rebuilt and grew from this experience. The great lengths we had to go through to get in to the memorial were still a very clear reminder of the threat that still is present every day, but even with that threat the work continues to proceed. The people still come to stand, to run their fingers over names that they do not even know and to remember a day that will never be forgotten.
This is not a very good picture but as I was leaving the memorial I realized that it was the only one I had. This lone tree (to the very far right of the picture) actually survived the attacks of that day. You can see the guard rail installed around the base. You can also see that several of the limbs on one side had been damaged and that it has been protectively staked to the ground to protect it from further damage. Amazing to think that in all the havoc of that day this tree managed to survive, survive, then recover and begin to thrive again!
This a a cropped and enlarged version so you can actually see part of the tree.
The North Tower pool, occasionally a strong gust of wind would blow through and you would get brushed with a gentle spray of cool water. Looking down into the pools and seeing the constant stream of flowing water did give me a very strong visual image of how things continue to carry one just like the continual flow of the fountains of both memorials.
Finally as were were about to leave I noticed this off to the right. There was a large group of young people. They had all gathered in a circle and they were holding hands and praying. I sat and watched for several minute. I said a prayer of gratitude that for all the people that were were visiting that day there was a small group that were taking the time spend a few minutes in recognition to the one who truly can heal all things. What I notices as I walked by this prayer circle was that there were several people sitting inside on a small stone bench. I can only speculate that possibly those on the inner circle had loved ones lost in this place on that terrible day.
It was no doubt a powerful experience that left me greatly thinking about many things. I had planned to finish of my vacation post with more pictures of our time at the Stature of Liberty, but then I began to think about my feelings of incongruence. The experience of standing in front of the memorial pools needed to stand alone.