Monday, December 26, 2011

9-11 Memorial

The evening before our latest trip to Manhattan, I logged in to the 9-11 Memorial website on the off chance that I might get reserved tickets to visit the site. I had tried and failed, on short notice, to get tickets in the past. We had to wait until after 4:30 PM, but we were able to get in without any trouble this time!

I wondered how my children would digest the experience as none of them are old enough to remember the day the towers fell. We've been to the site several times over the past ten years, and we watched several documentaries together as a family at the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. As a result, my children were very aware of the significance of the 9-11 Memorial during our visit this time. It is always a bit difficult for me to sit through any of the documentaries as it brings back vivid memories of the devastation that I felt on 9-11-2001 when I saw the beloved Manhattan skyline and so many lives changed forever. Somehow it is easier for me to visit the site than to relive the news footage of the events of that day. And, I think the memorial will bring necessary awareness for generations to come of what occurred that clear September morning.

One of the specials we'd seen was about the design of the memorial with its pools, waterfalls, and engraved names. The kids were very interested in the significance of each small detail designed into the memorial.

It was a beautiful, if cold night, and we toured the site with reverence. We searched for a few names that we'd learned from one of the documentaries on the computer terminals they have set up for just that purpose and we located the sections where those names are engraved. Unfortunately, the names we found all happen to be located on the north edge of the North Tower pool -- the only side closed due to the construction on the Freedom Tower.

The new tower is rising taller and taller into its place in the Manhattan skyline and its floors are all lit up in red, white, and blue as a backdrop to the memorial pools and the growing inner-city forest of swamp oaks. One of the highlights for all of us was the survivor tree now located just to the west of the South Tower pool.

We were all humbled by the experience of visiting this beautiful memorial to one of the most impactful tragedies in our shared lifetimes. Of the many, many pictures I took, the following were the ones selected by my kids as being the "best" and most meaningful representation of our visit. If you ever get the chance to visit the 9-11 Memorial, I certainly recommend you take advantage of it.

South Tower Pool

The nearest row of swamp white oaks marks to each pool delineates the actual footprint of the original towers

The twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man made waterfalls in North America

The Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center rises into the night sky

From the Memorial Jury's statement on selecting this design: "The 'Reflecting Absence' has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss"

The "Survivor Tree" is a callery pear that survived the destruction and was preserved for replanting.

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