Somber. Saddening. Melancholy. Reverent, Anger. Awe. Fascination. Pride. All kinds of feelings run through your mind.
I stood in the darkened corridors of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Hundreds of people wander through the hallways, some alone, some couples, families on a vacation, and some in groups with a guide offering narratives of displays. All in hushed tones.
One of the first things that hits you is the enormity of each of the towers. The perimeter footprints of the tower’s beams are visible in the tour on the floor of the museum. Photos on the walls remind you of the impressive height of the buildings and how they would dominate the Manhattan skyline.
We came to the sludge wall. This was built to keep the Hudson River out of the way. It was amazing to see the ingenuity used to make the original building feasible. Even more remarkable is the re-construction of these walls to make the rebuild of the southern tip of Manhattan possible. You just stand back and wonder how.
As we ambled through the tour, we come across relics from the scene of the collapse. Giant girders and beams made of 2” steel are bent and twisted, some into a horseshoe shape. You wonder what kind of force it would take to misshape these massive castings. We are allowed to run our hands over one of the girders laid out on our trail. We were reaching back and touching history.
There is an art piece on display the size of the side of a building, a wall with 1,113 tiles displaying all various shades of blue. It depicts interpretations of the color of the sky that morning. Behind the wall of blue tiles is a special room. It contains the remains of the 1,113 victims who have yet to be identified.
The guide finished our tour. She directed us toward the September 11, 2011 exhibition hall. This is a self-paced exhibition of artifacts and stories from the day. It starts with video screens playing tapes of TV’s initial reports from the early morning news programs. It tells the stories of flight attendants and passengers making phone calls to their loved ones back home from the doomed airliners.
Stories are told of the New York Firemen and Police Officers and their fearless efforts to go wherever they had to go to help save people trapped in the piles of rubble. 411 gave their life that day.
We stand next to Fire engines, ambulances and police cars that were pulled from under the rubble of the fallen buildings, smashed and obliterated by the tons of stone and steel that came crashing down. We walk past displays of shoes, shirts, papers, office debris, all sorts of evidence of the destruction, devastation, and loss of life of that day.
The air is somber. Conversations are hushed, there is a melancholic remembrance of September 11, a reverence toward all that was lost that day. An anger swirls inside. Awe and fascination clear the senses as you exit the beautiful museum building and look up at the first tower that has replaced that which was destroyed. You turn and look up at the other skyscrapers reaching into the blue skies. You take a deep breath and think to yourself. It’s a good day to be an American!