It’s been 17 years since the tragic day of September 11th, 2001, but as one of the signs in the memorial states, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
The high schoolers who will learn about the event this year, will be learning about it as history. They were not alive at the time that 2,977 people lost their lives in the biggest terrorist attack that the world had ever seen. I was only nine when it happen yet I remember the day clearly. I can still picture myself playing with legos while watching the footage on every news channel while my mom called family and friends in tears.
Despite feeling a pang of sadness every year when the anniversary comes around, the magnitude of the catastrophe never really resonated with me… until I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 1st as part of my New York Sightseeing Pass. I was curious about the museum but was mostly looking forward to going up the One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower afterwards.
I did not expect to be as moved as I was by the display of videos, artifacts and photographs of all of the victims and the towers. They displayed the metal structure that the first plane hit, twisting it out of shape. They had the motorcycle that one of the firefighters had just bought before perishing in the rescue efforts. They even had the boarding pass of one of the highjackers of Flight 77. It was fascinating and incredibly eerie at the same time.
As soon as we got through security and entered the building, a solemn mood fell over the previously boisterous crowd of tourists. There was barely any talking, except in hushed tones, as people read the timeline of events on September 11th.
The amount of information was staggering, down to the detailed minutes of the fateful day, from the phone call that a passenger made to his father from the first plane to rescuers telling people in the South tower to stay calm and return to their offices a mere half-hour before the second plane hit.
There were tissues available for viewers of a video where bystanders and survivors describing the series of events and the horrors that they witnessed. While we didn’t see anyone crying, many people were shaking their heads, holding their loved ones close and closing their eyes when things got too intense.
My favorite aspect of the memorial was the message of hope portrayed in the video about the construction of the One World Trade Center. Amidst all the horrifying footage and possessions of the victims were stories about the heroes who went above and beyond their duties to save lives and help those in need.
We spent about two hours walking around the museum and we would have spent more time there if it wasn’t so cold (the air-con was a little overdone) and if we hadn’t marched for four hours earlier during the day. There was a lot more we could have learned if we had had the energy (and a jacket).
It was a coincidence that we went to the memorial before going up to the observation deck. We were standing by the fountain and made the decision completely at random. It was so much more meaningful to go up the One Trade Center after going through the memorial and re-living the tragic event and experiencing the hope that the tower represented first-hand.
If you’re planning on visiting both the 9/11 Memorial and the One World Trade Center then we strongly recommend that you do the museum first. If you have enough time to spend an entire day there, visit the memorial in the morning followed by a lunch/coffee in the area. You can even get food to go and eat by the fountains that are located exactly where the original twin towers once stood. Please remember where you are and don’t disrespect the memorial by sitting or leaning against the names inscribed along the fountain.
End your day wowing over the views in the tower – try to time it around sunset. If you want to get drinks up on the deck, you can save some money by biding a $6/drink coupon at the ticket desk downstairs. Otherwise you can get beers for around $11, coffee for $5 and fancier wines/drinks or dinner for up to $30 per person. If you have the money to splurge, this is the place to do it.
A few facts about the 9/11 Memorial:
Construction began in 2006 and was finally opened to the public in May 2014. General admissions are $24 for adults, $44 for admission and a museum tour and $39 for admissions and a memorial tour. There are discounts for teenagers, children, students, seniors and U.S. veterans. It is also included in the New York Sightseeing Pass.
If you’re visiting New York City, this memorial is a definite must see. Just visiting the fountains won’t have the same effect . The two hours I spent here gave me a whole new appreciation of New York City. The events of 9/11 didn’t define the city. Instead, the attack united New Yorkers who went on to show the world their strength and the unbreakable spirit of this unique city.
I have so much respect for the creators of the memorial and museum, for the police officers and fire fighters who risked their lives on 9/11. Most of all, for the community that went through the world’s most horrifying terrorist attack and managed to rebuild their lives as well as their city, becoming stronger than ever before.
Rest in peace.
“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” – Virgil