Last week, my girlfriend and I went to visit my mom in Upstate New York. However, before driving upstate, we stopped-in on my girlfriend's sister who lives north of "The City," as us New Yorkers refer to New York City (NYC). I haven't been to The City since I was a teenager. My girlfriend's sister is a paramedic and was dispatched down to Ground Zero the day after the September 11th Attack, while my girlfriend's ex-husband was in the Pentagon that day. So last Friday we decided to spend the afternoon at the 911 Memorial.
This is what the new World Trade Center will look like once it is complete:
But for now, only the Freedom Tower is under construction, while Tower 7 is complete. Here's the view that greeted us as we drove into downtown Manhattan:
We signed-up for a guided tour, rather than wandering the memorial grounds. Prior to the tour, we meandered through the memorial museum, at NYFD Station #11.
The guides for these tours are all volunteers and were somehow personally involved, or affected by, the attacks on that day. Our main narrator, who's name escapes me, allowed a man to use her phone to locate his daughter, who was in the Trade Center's daycare. Fortunately the girl, along with all the other children were evacuated safely thanks to a couple of police officers. One, we were told, continues to suffer from health problems.
Miriam's involvement on the other hand, was more hard-hitting. Her husband was a newly promoted lieutenant in the NYFD. The terrorists attack right around shift-change and Miriam's husband, like so many others, chose to rush to the scene, rather than leave their buddies behind. Her husband was one of the 343 firefighters killed that day.
The tour started outside the museum/Station #11. Our first stop was around the corner, to the bronze mural on the station's wall.
Another view of the mural...
On September 11th, 2001, O'Hara's Pub was converted into a triage center.
Looking up at Freedom Tower, our guide told us the hijacked planes struck both towers at an altitude a few stories down from the completed level of the Freedom Tower. Which for aircraft flying over the city, is extremely low indeed. Freedom Tower, once completed will stand 1,776 feet--a deliberate and symbolic height.
Both hijacked aircraft flew up Greenwich Street.
After going through a security screening, similar to that of airports, we entered the memorial grounds.
The names of all the victims are cut into a bronze railing surround both memorial pools.
Looking into the South Tower Memorial Pool, we were told the water in the fountain is separated into strands to represent each individual victim. The pit in the center was designed so that no matter where you stand, you cannot see the bottom. The concept was to express emptiness and loss.
Pictured below, is the Survivor Tree, the only plant that didn't die at the original World Trade Center site.
Before we left, I took a picture of the North Tower Memorial Pool.
I found the 911 Memorial to be deeply moving, in some ways even more so than the USS Arizona Memorial, because I, like many of you, actually watched the events of 9/11 unfold from the very start. It's a sobering reminder for all of us on what happened nearly eleven years ago--and what may happen again if we cease our vigilance.