Monday, October 17, 2011

9/11 Memorial . . . and More

Ground Zero is a five-minute walk from our apartment building.  I pass the construction site or look up at Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) every day.

Blue, heavy mesh plastic covers the chain-link fencing that surrounds the multi-block work zone, restricting the view of the 9/11 Memorial inside.  I have read descriptions and seen glimpses of it on t.v. during the 10th anniversary ceremonies, but still can't imagine the layout, the positioning of the pools, the trees, the grass-covered areas.

Thanks to a neighbor who told us about the availability of same-day tickets at the NYC Information Kiosk - City Hall, we pick up our passes for the 2:00 o'clock time slot on Saturday afternoon.  After a 15-minute wait in line and comprehensive security check reminiscent of an airport screening, we follow the wall of blue to the Memorial.  Openness greets us, as if the surrounding buildings have taken several steps backward.  Yet the enormity of the space tells a truer story of what happened, the terror that created the vacuum.

The air immediately feels different.  Cooler, wetter, like walking into woods after a rain.  I take a deep breath; my body relaxes.  Sounds of the street disappear.  Falling water absorbs the extraneous, the unnecessary, as if cleansing the space, leaving room only for the essential.

White oak trees, row after row, newly planted, offer shelter, comfort.   Stripes of manicured grass and evergreen ivy soften the well-worn soil, sooth anxieties. Birds explore a new neighborhood, singing of their excitement.

I'm unprepared for the enormity of the pools, marking the foundations of the original towers and the depth of loss.  The void creates unease, makes me want to move away; yet the soothing waterfalls encourage me to stay.

My fingertips move from letter to letter,  feeling the names carved through the thick bronze panels surrounding the pools.  Names of the victims demand that we stop, feel, remember.

A place of destruction has become "a place of refuge and safety," a sanctuary for all who visit.

Grateful to live in the neighborhood,  I will return often to receive its peacefulness.  Yet, I walk away knowing that the Memorial requires something of me, as well. . . to live her peace, to pass it on.      



  1. It's me again............... I so look forward to reading your blog. I, too, have been to Ground Zero. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Are you only blogging once a week?

  2. Hi Colleen,
    Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog! It means a lot to me to hear from readers. I would enjoy corresponding with you via email. You can send me an email via my profile, then I can respond directly back to you.
    All the best,

  3. Collen,
    I forgot to answer your question. Yes, I am blogging weekly, not on a consistent day, but usually between Friday and Monday.

  4. I liked reading your description. We're going on the 30th. My thoughts while watching the 10 year anniversary memorial came back as I read your blog. I'm interested to see what reactions I have after going through that weekend. Have you seen the NJ 9/11 memorial? It's at Liberty Park - another interesting exhibit. Call and we can go together sometime, when it isn't raining.

    I also am reading the book "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" after reading your library blog. I want to explore that neighborhood as well. Wanna join me before you leave, or when you return?

    Enjoy this rainy day in your new raincoat :-) Can't wait for the next blog entry to see what adventures you're up to.

  5. I also loved seeing your photos, especially your softened reflection behind the name "Thomas" - an artistic connection. It sure was a beautiful day for you to see the exhibit.

  6. Nola,
    Being the photographer that you are, I'm not surprised that you noticed the reflection. :-) Not intentional, but maybe a symbolic way of connecting with the people memorialized there. I'm glad you're reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Yes, we should do some exploring over there. Thanks for reading!


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