Monday, January 26, 2015

9.11 Memorial and Museum

Likely, you remember exactly where you were on September 11, 2001.  I remember vividly every last detail of the day.  I watched it all unfold on television with two small children playing at my feet.  I remember the horror, disbelief and fear I felt.  Still, I was removed.  I was in Athens, Georgia, far away from the flames, the panic, the sounds and smells of pure t terror.

During our recent trip to NYC, we visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  It opened this past spring and kudos to the people who designed the building and all the exhibits.  I thought that the use of some of the remaining artifacts as well as the site itself was very creative.

The nearly 3000 are given names and faces through these exhibits.  The loss of lives, formerly categorized in my brain as a number, is made human.  One of the walls displays the name and picture of a man, roughly my age.  Underneath his picture and name are the names of two girls with the same last name as his.  Had he brought his daughters to work?  Was this to be a rewarding day with Daddy? What other plans had they made for the day? He never could have known that it would be the last for all of them.

Another exhibit featured quotes that would further chill you to the bone.  To paraphrase one of the most memorable for me,
"As horrible as it was, I didn't want the day to end.  It was still a day I had shared with Sean."

If you could read that and not cry, something's wrong.

One quote from a bystander on the ground tells how she could not turn away.  She forced herself to watch as people leaped from the burning tower.  She described how one lady, modest to the end, smoothed her skirt and held it down as she jumped.  The onlooker doesn't give or likely even know the lady's name.  I'd like to think that when that brave woman received her heavenly crown, it was laden with pearls.

If you've visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. or even seen the movie, American Sniper, you've had the eery feeling that such silence in a crowd brings.  The 911 Memorial and Museum was quiet as a church and rightfully so.

If you go, tickets can be purchased ahead of time, on line. The tickets are for a dedicated time of your specified day. The line forms outside the museum... and it's cold.  We were there on a holiday Saturday and we lined up 30 minutes before our scheduled time.  We didn't wait outside for the entire time, but we did stand there for a little while.  So, bundle up. It's well worth it.  We spent a little over 2 hours in the museum and we saw all the exhibits, watched a lot of the video footage as well as the movie.

Our children are 17 and 14.  We had lots to talk about after touring.  They have studied these events in school and were old enough (if that's possible) to handle some of the horror of that day. I don't pretend to be able to make age recommendations for this, though I will say that the crowd was very respectful, very quiet and very emotional.  I have no reservations, however, in recommending this for every American adult.

The 3000 innocent people had names, families, lives and jobs.  More than 4oo died in an effort to save others.  This can never be forgotten.  This museum will make sure.