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11 Sep
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9/11 Memorial and Remembering

Sept. 11 memorial names NYC

I stood at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial overcome by emotion. I would not be emotionally capable of touring the nearby museum and knew if I stayed much longer, I would be reduced to a crying heap on a bench.

We began our day in New York City with a tour of Liberty and Ellis islands. We gazed at the NYC skyline from the ferry returning to Battery Park answering questions from our children about where the Twin Towers formerly stood in the majestic view of the city. They’re well-versed on the events of 9/11 and had been logistically prepared for what we would find at the World Trade Center site. I knew it would be an emotional visit to the memorial, but was truly unprepared for the depth of emotions I would feel.

Sept. 11 memorial NYC

After being slightly turned around on the NYC streets, we made our way to the 9/11 Memorial following banners and foot-traffic to the two large waterfalls and reflecting pools built in the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood. Each of the pools is roughly one-acre in size and the memorial utilizes eight-acres of the 16-acre World Trade Center site. Over three thousand names of those who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the towers are engraved into bronze panels along the sides of the pools overlooking the waterfalls leading to the reflecting pools.

Sept. 11 memorial NYC waterfall into reflecting pool

Images of the events from Sept. 11, 2001 whirled in my mind as we walked those streets. I tried to connect what I witnessed play-out on television to the actuality of standing at the site of those horrific events. I told the story, again, of where I was that day 16 years ago while the children listened.

We began our visit to the memorial at the North Pool where hundreds of people lingered around the four-sides. I watched our teenage son trace the name of one of those lost that day and bow his head. The children knew this was a place for remembrance and reflection. You can feel the enormity of what occurred there that day as you walk the perimeters of the reflecting pools. It’s like no other memorial I’ve visited.

Sept. 11 memorial survivor tree

We moved to the South Pool where fewer people were gathered. The panels here have more rescue personnel denoted as part of those lives lost that day. A Callery pear tree stands surrounded by a fence near the South Pool. It’s known as the survivor tree. It was discovered a month after the attack severely damaged, but still alive. It was removed and nursed back to health before being replanted in 2010 at the site of the memorial. It is scarred and shows signs of the trauma, much like the American people, but is a sign of resilience and rebirth. It’s there, watching my boys stand under the marred branches of the survivor tree, that the impact of what happened became too much to keep emotionally contained. So many lost. So much altered.

Today I’ll remember and reflect on those in NYC, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania who died Sept. 11, 2001. The memorials established in their honor ensures they are not forgotten.

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