New York is a destination that most people dream of visiting and it was great to be back there after a 15 year absence. It was especially great to be sharing it with my family and be part of my kids’ first visit.
I had never been to the Statue of Liberty on my previous visits, so dropping in on the lady was on our must do list. The boat ride was calm and relaxing and the weather was wonderful, and to visit such an icon for the first time was definitely a great experience. We had pre-booked tickets to go up into the pedestal, but missed out on the crown as they’d sold out months before our trip. I have to say that climbing all of those stairs showed me how unfit I am, and I regretted not taking the elevator, but the view and experience was well worth it.
After returning from Liberty Island to Battery Park, it was only a ten minute walk to ground zero. We wanted to show our respect to New Yorkers and the victims of 9/11 , and to reflect on how the world changed on that day.
The 9/11 Memorial has been created where the WTC towers once proudly stood. It is a sacred place for the people to gather and remember, which has been beautifully and respectfully designed.
Rows of trees thrive amongst ample open space that creates a perfect zone for reflection amongst the towering buildings and traffic-laden roads nearby. A single tree that had survived that dark day has been nurtured and replanted, it serves as a perfect symbol of resilience and survival against the odds. Even though hundreds of visitors surrounded the memorials, they were largely silent. The calming tones of the water cascading deep into the footprints of the towers seemed to overwhelm and erase the sounds of nearby traffic.
I felt moved by the flowers and messages that visitors had wedged into the engraved names on the plaques. Beyond the names was a narrow lane of water around the memorial’s entire edge. Its calm, almost glass-like surface was perfect for reflection, as the water gently spilled over the infinity edge, taking our thoughts with it down into ground zero.
It was a place that is hard to describe. Usually, memorials I visit are for things that have happened long before my time. It was a different experience to be at place built to remember something so tragic from within my lifetime. Memories flooded back of where I was and what I was doing when it happened. It was the year of my son’s birth, I worried for what the future held for him and for future generations.
Next, we passed through security and entered the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which has been created within the basement areas of the towers. Described in the simplest of terms, it is remarkable. If you ever go to New York City, it is a must to visit. Words can never express such a place to the same level as actually being there. Perhaps the following photos can provide a glimpse.
To stand in the exact spot where the bomb exploded in the 1993 attack was confronting. On another day, in another time tragedy had filled that very place not once, but twice. The twisted metal beams, remnants of foundations and footings still embedded in the ground, the shattered ‘survivors’ stairs, a crushed fire truck, and a surviving section of the communication spire. The list goes on. To see actual remnants from the WTC attack was both incredible and humbling.
We sat in a simple room with total strangers in complete silence, and watched the stories of victims projected onto the walls. It reminded me that most of us want the same thing – peace, tolerance, respect – and to learn from the past. It’s impossible not to be moved by such a place.
Well, it seems that this short holiday post about our trip to New York has become a lot longer than I planned, so I had to break it into two parts (part 1 is here). Thanks for hanging in there.
Our 2014 New York City memories are filled with Rockefeller views, crisp winter air, Salvation Army volunteers dancing with bells on every corner, towering skyscrapers, yellow cabs, holiday decorations, uber-crowded sidewalks, the magical attraction of Times Square, the charismatic Statue of Liberty, Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue, a wintry Central Park, the moving 9/11 Memorial and Museum that rekindled memories of that day, the accents, the coffee, the bagels, the souvenirs … and most of all the people who are like the city that surrounds them … welcoming, resilient and proud.
New York, New York, you’re a wonderful town.
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