Destinations Magazine

Remembering 9/11 in New York City

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw
Remembering 9/11 in New York City We are not ones to post sad articles very often on this blog.  Unless extremely warranted, we like to write about the happier side of travel as much as we can.  In extreme circumstances we visit a sight so hauntingly terrible that we cannot let the moment go by without sharing the feeling with everyone else.  Not so much to make you feel bad or bring your day down, but to share the message the site represents.  As was is the case with the war memorials of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, so is the case of the 9/11 memorial in New York City. 
The 9/11 Memorial in Photos
We do not need to give background on the events of 9/11; nearly everyone in the world knows what happened.   The memorial and rebuilding efforts, on the other hand, you may not be familiar with.   While the monument is and World Trade Center buildings are still being worked on at the time of this post being published, a substantial effort has already been completed.  Words cannot describe the feelings you get when visiting the memorial, so instead this post will be focused on the pictures from the memorial grounds and nearby buildings.  Please take a moment to reflect upon each photo keeping in mind the events of 9/11.
'Reflecting Absence' Pools
Remembering 9/11 in New York City
In the base where the twin towers once stood there are now two reflecting pools set several feet down from ground level.  Around all four corners is a beautiful waterfall that constantly fills the pool below. Overflow from the pool falls into a central hole that is described as a void that is physically impossible to see the bottom of, regardless of angle you look at it.  The monument is as powerful as it is simplistic.  Rather than building outward from the ground out, the memorial goes in.   From the first look, you know that the memorial represents the buildings that used to stand in the open space that is now present, and the names of those lost in the attacks circle both monuments.
Remembering 9/11 in New York City Remembering 9/11 in New York City

Survivor Tree and the New World Trade Center

Remembering 9/11 in New York City
One of the most interesting features of the 9/11 memorial is the Survivor Tree.  This tree was the only one still standing on the World Trade Center complex after the attacks, was moved to a new location to recover, partially damaged during a later storm, and remarkably recovered to its current growth (picture above) at the 9/11 memorial.  Something about this tree speaks true to those in New York and the rest of the country, enduring through the events of 9/11 and recovering after a significant struggle.
Finally, the World Trade Center buildings themselves are in the process of being rebuilt.   After much debate, these buildings are nearing completion and are a beautiful and haunting reminder of all that was lost on that fateful day.
Remembering 9/11 in New York City
St Paul's Chapel and Memorial
Remembering 9/11 in New York City
Nearby to the 9/11 Memorial stands St Paul's Church, one of the most significant buildings involved in the events of 9/11.  The building itself was not damaged.  Instead, St Paul's Chapel was one of the homes for the first responders, emergency rescue workers, and volunteers to rest, recover, and get back out to the fallen buildings to look for survivors.  As the weeks went on, weary rescue workers would make their way back to St Paul's for a good meal and quick sleep before going back out to work some more.  While the recovery effort of those weeks is now a thing of the past, St Paul's remains a memorial dedicated to these first responders including banners made from rescue workers around the country, a patch collection from emergency personnel around the world, paper cranes from Japan, and more.  If the scene at the 9/11 memorial is not enough to move you to tears, learning about the heroic efforts of the emergency workers certainly will.
Remembering 9/11 in New York City Remembering 9/11 in New York City Remembering 9/11 in New York City
A Call to New York City
While the images of the memorial bring a tear to our eyes remembering what happened on that day several years ago, we cannot help but be a bit angry at the current state of the memorial in the city.  New York City, you've got some explaining to do.
Remembering 9/11 in New York City
  1. Vendors selling memorial packets - On nearly every corner of the 9/11 memorial, visitors are bombarded with souvenir touts selling booklets about the events that occurred on 9/11.  As much as we want to be there to pay our respects, being hounded by a dozen sellers putting pictures of the Twin Towers on fire in your face is not a way to start your experience at this solemn memorial.  Why are these people allowed to sell here and make profit on a national tragedy?  I suppose it isn't ethical to ban selling outright, but is it really okay to allow vendors to sell within 20 feet of the memorial fencing?  Sales aren't allowed in the memorial grounds, but considering everyone has to make a loop around the memorial just to get inside, can't this courtesy be extended just a bit further?

  2. Scheduling tickets and airline style security - We understand that the memorial and surrounding buildings are still being built, but why all of the security and registration just to get in to see the memorial?  The first day we arrived not knowing we needed to schedule tickets, and were met with signs that essentially made us have to go back to our hotel, go online, and schedule a time slot for a reservation.  We would have been happy peering over a fence but the entire memorial is completely blocked from sight by solid fencing. Online sources indicate that the registration process is only during this construction phase and will go away when the buildings are complete, but it seems a little counter-intuitive in all cases.  At the very least, could you get a few kiosks setup for people who do not have smart phones and would like to schedule a same day visit?
    Likewise, isn't going through airport style screening to pay your respects to a memorial a bit much?  The little boy in front of us had his backpack inspected by 3 guards while they discussed him having a souvenir baseball in his bag from a Yankees game and if it should be allowed in.  Does anyone else see a problem with this? 

  3. Visitors getting photos of themselves -  This one is not a call to New York City, but the visitors to the memorial itself. While we can understand the temptation of getting photos of yourself at various attractions around the world, sometimes we should all stop and take pause as to what we are doing.  During our visit to the memorial, we saw many visitors getting photos of themselves with the monument while smiling and posing for the camera.  Something struck us as odd with this happy scene at a place dedicated to such a recent tragedy. 
    Looking inward, we realize we've done this ourselves in the past at other destinations that have been the sites of tragedies for other cultures.  Maybe this comment is more of a reflection of ourselves and what the memorial means to us rather than as a means to scold other visitors, but it is a good thought to take pause about.  You never know when the person next to you lost a loved one in the event the memorial is there to remember. 
This is one monument we think everyone in the US needs to see at least once in the next few years.  The impact it will have on your outlook on life and the way we participate in the world around us will change forever.  That we can promise you.
For those who will be visiting New York City in the future and would like to pre-arrange their free time slot to visit the 9/11 Memorial, please use  Check for tickets at least 48 hours in advance, especially if visiting on a weekend, to ensure you are able to secure an appropriate time slot.
We'd like to thank our friends at Roomorama for providing a great apartment for our stay in New York City.  For the full review of our apartment, check out this link.
Remembering 9/11 in New York City

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