National September 11 Memorial and Museum

May 29, 2013

9/11 Memorial

By Koseli. Photos by Kari Christensen.

On Mother’s Day, my husband and I met up with two of my brothers and their families at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. It was a final family get-together before my brother Kristian and his family moved to Dallas, TX, for medical school. For the past 4 1/2 years, the three of us have lived in New York City together — braving cross-town moves, job changes, stolen vehicles, hot subway cars, and every crazy thing city life can throw at you. We’ve also shared exciting new career opportunities, innumerable picnics in Prospect Park, first-time parenthood, surviving that first-time parenthood in tiny one bedroom apartments, and most recently, Hurricane Sandy.

Waving goodbye to my brother as the train pulled away from the Atlantic Avenue station was one of those sweet but terribly sad moments you feel an era coming to a close. My brother worked and lived near Wall Street for years so visiting the memorial was a timely and special occasion for us all.

9/11 Memorial

The memorial is built on the former World Trade Center complex and covers 16 acres. The main features are two one-acre waterfalls and reflecting pools, a memorial plaza, a museum, and the Survivor Tree.

9/11 Memorial

Upon entering the grounds, we immediately walked up to the North reflecting pool. I was absolutely awestruck at not only the enormity of the pool, but the instant visceral reaction I had to it. It looks and feels as if the dramatic waterfall that surrounds the pool falls forever into the dark center, which is the exact spot where each of the two towers once stood.

To call it moving is an understatement; all the images I’ve seen haven’t captured what it truly feels like in-person. It was absolutely beautiful. The museum is not yet complete, but will house exhibitions and remnants crucial to telling the story of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks.

9/11 Memorial

Just as the designers intended, the memorial was a contemplative place “separate from the usual sights and sounds of a bustling metropolis.” It felt hopeful and bold. I felt honored to experience the memorial and remember all those who lost so much.

Have you ever had a particularly moving experience at a national memorial?  I’d love to hear.

P.S. — A few tips: It’s best to reserve a free ticket ahead of time, carry as little as possible (as there is extensive security before entering the grounds), and bring water and a jacket. (It can be particularly windy in Battery Park City.) There were plenty of helpful volunteers on the grounds to answer any questions about the memorial. For those unable to visit, you can learn more about the memorial design and details in a virtual tour here.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stella May 29, 2013 at 8:38 am

We are visiting NYC next month and definitely planning on visiting the memorial. Thanks for the tips & for reminding me to put it on my must-see list.

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2 Koseli Cummings May 29, 2013 at 8:52 am

Have a wonderful trip, Stella!

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3 Lisette Wolter-McKinley May 29, 2013 at 9:51 am

I recently visited the 9/11 memorial in February. Being on those hallow grounds was such a moving experience, I will never forget it.

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4 Aina Y May 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I was in third grade when 9/11 happened and I had no idea what had happened then. My grandpa had picked me up early like the rest of the parents of the children and I went home to watch cartoons and every channel was live coverage of the attack. It was so scary. I had no idea what was happening. My dad worked near the city and he went on his building’s rooftop and he said he can see the towers in flames and what not.

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5 celebrity interior designer May 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm

We’ve also shared exciting new career opportunities, innumerable picnics in Prospect Park, first-time parenthood, surviving that first-time parenthood in tiny one bedroom apartments, It felt hopeful and bold. I felt honored to experience the memorial and remember all those who lost so much.

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6 db May 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm

The holocaust museum in Washington dc was especially moving when I visited several years ago.

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7 Lisa May 30, 2013 at 12:11 am

When I was a teenager, my parents took my brother and me to Washington D.C.  At one point during the trip we visited the Vietnam War Memorial. My dad had served in Vietnam, but he rarely ever spoke of his experience. When we got to the wall, there was a book where you could look up your loved ones name to find the coordinates of where the name was etched on the wall. I’ll never forget seeing my dad, turning the pages looking for a name, and then finding it. I had assumed he knew that the person he was looking for had died in the war, he didn’t. Finding that name in the book was the first time he heard the news. The tears rolled down his cheeks, the first time I had seen him cry. We all walked quietly to the wall and he reached his hand up to the name of his fallen friend, mentor and comrade in arms. I saw my dad as a man that day, not just as my father. 

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8 Pam May 30, 2013 at 4:06 am

Thankyou for your beautiful description of this monument. I am travelling to NY in January and had planned to visit the site. Now I know th

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9 Pam May 30, 2013 at 4:12 am

Thankyou very much for your description of the twin towers monument. I am travelling to NY with my family in January and had already planned to visit it, now I know that I HAVE to. As for a special monument, over twenty years ago I went to the holocaust museum in Jerusalem. It still gives me goosebumps to think about it. The art installation that stands outside is the same one as the one outside Auschwitz concentration camp . Inside the children’s memorial, the mirrors,the candles, the eerie silence……. Tragic but incredibly thought provoking. Again, after twenty years, my heart skips a beat at the thought of it

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