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.
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.
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.
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.