September 11, 2009

In honor of today...

This morning my kids and I were talking about how remembering September 11 is so much different now that we've been there and seen these places. I thought in honor of today, I'd take you on a little sightseeing tour of some of the memorials we saw on our visit to NYC last month.

Eleven Tears: This memorial is beautiful, peaceful, and so simplistic, but no element of symbolism was overlooked. It's located across the street from the WTC in the American Express lobby at the World Financial Center. It is an eleven-sided pool with the names and descriptions of the eleven American Express employees who died on September 11 etched into the granite. In the middle is a huge, eleven-sided quartz suspended by eleven cables. Water drips down the cables and lands in the pool, making a ripple that extends out. Here is a complete description of the Eleven Tears memorial.

St. Paul's Chapel: This tiny little church across the street from the WTC has history dating back to George Washington, and became the rehab center during rescue efforts. Most of the pews were damaged by the firefighting equipment, and the decision was made to remove all but two. Now, chairs face a podium in the center of the church in a circle. Surrounding the chairs are exhibits documenting the events following September 11 from the church's perpective. The thing that makes this special is that it tells the story of how St Paul's Chapel provided and served the community during this time.

FDNY Memorial Wall: As a firefighting family this was especially powerful. Ten House sits literally across the street from the WTC site. A memorial wall on the side of the building recognizes the 343 firefighters killed on September 11. Even all these years later, people still leave momentos at the wall. It's amazing that the firehouse was even standing after the attack, and even more amazing the work these guys did that day.

WTC Site: If you follow the skywalks, you can walk completely around the WTC site. In this giant construction site, the WTC Plaza is beginning to emerge. The new 1 World Trade Center, called Freedom Tower has risen above street level. The tower will be 1776 feet tall when completed, and become America's tallest building. Work has also started to construct the two waterfalls that will be set in the exact footprint of the original towers as the main feature of the National Memorial and Museum.

Staten Island Memorial: We wandered upon this by accident. We took the ferry to Staten Island after dinner, planned to relax by the water, and then take the ferry back at night. We sat a few hunderd feet from the Memorial for more than an hour, and even commented on what an interesting piece of artwork it was, before we made it down the shoreline and found out it was a memorial. Two large "wings" are made up of each person's profile with names and photos in some of them. When you stand looking toward Manhattan, the wings perfectly frame the WTC site.

There are so many more memorials around the site and throughout the City. The Sphere from the original plaza was recovered and now stands in Battery Park. The Ground Zero Cross, a piece of steel in the shape of a cross that was recovered from the site, sits outside St. Peter's Church.

Seeing these things first hand makes the enormity of the events more clear, and in some ways more frightening - it's closer, more personal. These places also represent our ability to recover, rebuild, and remember the things that are important in life.

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