The 9/11 Memorial is both a tourist destination and a graveyard. Inside the 9/11 Museum are artifacts including personal belongings, fire trucks, and architecture recount the day the World Trade Center was attacked. I have visited New York City many times since 911. The first time was three months after the attacks and there were barriers around the site with posters on them asking for information on loved ones. It was a very emotional visit and one that I will never forget. On that first visit we went across the street to St Paul’s Chapel, this small church, right in the shadows of the Twin Towers, did not suffer any damage, only paper strewn in the graveyard.
It was a miracle that it did not suffer more than it did. It soon became a place of pilgrimage for those who were looking for loved ones and a sleeping place for the emergency workers who were working all hours. Fast forward to 2012 and the Chapel has developed a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives and those who helped in the days and months after the attacks. I think it fits well against the 911 memorial that has just opened, the place where you collect your tickets is right beside the Chapel.
After collecting our tickets we walked a few blocks to the 911 memorial, this is well signposted so you can’t get lost. I would recommend organizing tickets in advance as the queues can be quite large. The tickets are free but you are invited to make a donation. Once you pass through security, you walk straight into the eight-acre memorial site.
There are two memorial pools, one for the North tower and one for the South tower. They are positioned where the base of each tower once stood. Around the perimeter of each are the names of those who lost their lives on that fateful day 11 years ago. Each of the reflecting pools is an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.
They have also nearly finished building a new tower, which stands out against the other buildings and stands proud over the 911 Memorial.
While walking around the memorial, my thoughts drifted to those who had lost their lives and how awful that day must have been for all involved and for the families who are left behind. I think it is a lovely memorial site and definitely makes you reflect.
There are two opportunities to look at items that survived, were found or donated by those who helped survivors or from families who had lost loved ones. You can see these in both the 911 Memorial ticket collection area or in the museum/ shop as you exit the memorial.
I would recommend a visit to the 911 memorial, whether like me you have seen the site at different stages of its existence, what has been achieved gives meaning to the word memorial.