May 18, 2014

New York City Day 3 - 9/11 Memorial

If you are like me, you remember exactly what you were doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  It was the day after my 22nd birthday.  I was getting ready for class at Mississippi State when I was watching The Today Show.  As soon as I heard, I called my former roommate to tell her.  Her dad works at the Pentagon.

I remember most every detail of that day. Sitting in line at the gas station.  Calling Chris' cousin to wish him a happy birthday. Sitting at my apartment watching all the news coverage.  We didn't even have class that day, we just watched the coverage.  Eventually my friend was able to talk to her Mom that said her Dad had not gone to work that day.  Luckily.

When we were on the last leg of our privately guided tour, we headed down toward the 9/11 Memorial.  It was COLD and POURING but as soon as we left St. Paul's Chapel and headed toward Ground Zero, you could feel a change in the air. Not the temp, not the physical air.  The demeanor.  The attitude.

It gave me chills.

There was not the loudness of NYC that you are used to.  People were almost reverent there.  I have never felt anything like it.

Since we were on a private tour, we were able to be 'fast-tracked' through the line.  That alone saved us at least an hour!  Once we got inside, you had to go through metal detectors and all just like an airport.  But once you were done, they guided you through, back to the outside.

Our guide was wonderful.  It was raining so hard at this point that we were huddled in and he was shouting.  He told us of 3 personal stories of people who were in the Twin Towers or who were first responders.

Besides the fact that we were wet and cold, there was still such an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness here.  I only took 2 photos the entire time because I wanted to hear every word he said.  I wanted to hear every story I could about the people who lost their lives or where instrumental in getting people out.

As you can see, the rain was ridiculous.  But this is where Tower 1 used to stand.  Now, there are these 'memorials' where the have 2 waterfalls, all designed for you to NOT see the bottom.  It's so loud but you don't even notice it.  These drowned out the sounds of NYC.  You couldn't even hear the construction trucks just outside the fences.  It was like a quiet, reverent place to honor these people.

Here you see a white rose on this person's name.  We saw about 6 or 7 of them on that day.  The roses mean it was that person's birthday the day we were there.  They still honor those people every single day.

After we left this area, we went to see the lone survivor.  It was a tree.  
Man, I get choked up just typing about it.

And, my friend John had a friend from college that died in the attacks that day.  He was able to find his name and take a picture of it.

This was the most moving experience I've ever had.  I guess it just never seemed real to me since I hadn't seen something like this in person, with my own 2 eyes.

We weren't there when the museum was open but I watched Matt Lauer there last week on The Today Show.  I can only imagine it's just as powerful as the memorial. 
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