Tuesday, October 11, 2011
My Visit to the 9-11 Memorial
Today, October 11, 2011, I visited the 9-11 memorial. It is the memorial to the victims of the 9-11 attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania as well as those who were lost in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Its design is unique, and although one must traverse a maze of passageways, security and ticket observers, the visit is well worth the time.
Included in the memorial are two waterfall pools approximately thirty feet deep and three hundred feet square, each representing one of the towers of the World Trade Center. The pools are sized to be the exact footprints of each of the towers that fell that fateful day of 9-11-2001. Each pool is built of dark granite sides with light granite tops over which the water cascades in rivulets to the bottom of the thirty-foot fall. In the center of the larger footprint is a smaller, square stone pit into which the water falls and through which the water is recycled into the fountain.
At waist level around the pools are bronze tablets that are hollow etched with the names of all of the victims of the 9-11-2011 and 1993 attacks. Each bronze tablet is assigned a letter and number for identification. The letter signifies the south or north tower, by N or S, and the numbers are consecutive around each pool.
The names are arranged by proximity rather than alphabetical. By proximity, the designers believed it was important to show that individuals were together in offices or the Windows to the World restaurant or other like places; so where there were people who worked in the same office, for example, their names are located adjacent to each other. To locate a specific person by name, electronic kiosks are located on-site to find the specific tablet on which the name has been etched.
I found it humbling to walk around each pool, feeling the name of each person and offering a brief prayer. While I know its not really possible, I hope that death came quickly, and that they did not suffer excruciating pain during this incredible tragedy. I discovered the names of four women who were pregnant at the time and their inscriptions provide their names with the additional wording, “and her unborn child.” I think about not only the life of the mother and the future that she never got to enjoy, but also the life of the unborn child, whose future potential would never be known. God only knows whether a future president, inventor, entrepreneur or peace-maker might have been lost.
One can only surmise the hatred that must be felt by someone who can willingly and without conscience take the life of another person. I can only imagine—never understand--the intense hatred that must have been felt by those who eagerly gave their lives that day in order to destroy the lives of almost 3,000 people.
Throughout the grounds, more than four hundred trees have been planted to represent the new life that is arising from the debris-strewn site. Mayor Bloomberg has asked that we begin to refer to it as “The World Trade Center” and to give it new life as represented by these trees. In the middle of the plaza is planted the “survivor tree.” With its leaves full and plush, even on a mid-October afternoon, it is the only surviving remnant of life from the original site itself. It has been nursed back to health from that day, and it stands as reminder that God always provides a remnant from which he will spring new life and action.
The new 1 World Trade, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, now stands 76 stories and will eventually dwarf all that is around it, finally at 1770 feet high. It is a reminder that our nation is a nation of stalwarts who will not permit tragedies such as Pearl Harbor or even 9-11 to quench its spirit. May God grant us the insight to find the path out of our current morass, the desire to restore the pioneering spirit of America to its people, the wisdom to acknowledge God as the source of our freedom, and the energy and intelligence to recognize and to continue to enjoy the fruits of a nation that is the envy of the world.