12 Years Later

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I was experimenting with EyeEm in December, which is when I took this picture of the Freedom Tower.

My husband and I spent our five year anniversary in Manhattan this past December.  My parents watched our daughter for three nights, which meant we went to shows, explored different neighborhoods by hopping on and off the subway, and enjoyed relaxing dinners.  We also had the chance to do something we wanted to do for awhile: visit the 9/11 Memorial.

We bundled ourselves up the day before our anniversary and headed to Lower Manhattan.  We stood in long lines and went through security. Finally, we arrived at the National September 11th Memorial.  We read the names of those who perished on the bronze panels as we walked around the perimeter of the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools.  So many names.  So much loss.

We also looked around Memorial Plaza.  I was amazed when I looked up.  Work continued on the Freedom Tower — on a Saturday afternoon.  Watching construction continue on a weekend moved me.  Many New Yorkers, including me, objected to the construction of the Freedom Tower (aka: One World Trade Center) for a variety of reasons.  However, after visiting the 9/11 Memorial, my opinion of it changed.  The building represents so much. Resolve.  Comeback.  Hope.

I visited my family in the New York Metropolitan Area this past weekend.  I caught a glimpse of the Freedom Tower as we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.  Though the skyline is very different from the one I grew up with, there was something comforting about seeing a skyscraper rise up from Lower Manhattan again.

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We took a detour to Shanksville on our way out to Pittsburgh this past May since I wanted to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial.  I’ve felt deeply indebted to the men and women who staved off an attack on the U.S. Capitol ever since reports surfaced about their bravery on September 11th.

My husband and I held our daughter’s hand as we walked through what used to be an ordinary field.  While not all of the features of this memorial are complete, my chest felt heavy by the pieces of it that were.  A timeline of the day.  An explanation of what happened on-board the flight.  Photos of the passengers and crew members.  We held hands and walked through the Memorial Plaza Wall and Walkway, which is a long black wall that marks one of the edges of the crash site and the debris field.  It was hard to believe a plane went down in what seemed like such a tranquil spot.  I squeezed my daughter’s hand a little tighter as we walked together as a family, knowing how many families were broken apart that September day.

My husband and daughter walking back towards the Visitor Shelter.

My husband and daughter walking back towards the Visitor Shelter.

One thing I haven’t been able to let go of is something I saw and read in the Visitor Shelter.  On the day we visited, it was the birthday of Donald F. Greene, one of the men who died on Flight 93.  His photo and bio hung on the Visitor Shelter wall to pay tribute to him.  The photo was yet another reminder of a family who was missing their loved one a bit more that day.

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I went to college in Washington, DC and visit often.  However, I haven’t been to the Pentagon Memorial. It is my hope to visit it in the coming year so I can pay tribute to those men and women in the upcoming year.

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Today I remember all of the victims of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks.  What are you doing to pay tribute to those who perished on September 11th, 2001?