It was a glorious blue sky New York day when I visited the Memorial in December, just as it had been on September 11, 2001. You cannot walk this sacred ground to the Twin Towers Memorial Pool and view the inscribed names of those lost in the terrifying events without remembering of that horrific day.
The museum is located next to the recently completed One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower)
and the Oculus Shopping Area. Both of these buildings symbolize the endurance and tenacity of New Yorkers.
The 9-11 memorial opened ten years after the attack and the museum opened on May 15, 2014.
Beginning our tour, my friend and I viewed a film that chronicled the events of the attack and the eight months of debris removal following the tragedy. The flag that was raised by the firemen over the site is displayed just outside the theater. There you can read the story behind the search for the flag that was lost for years.
Heading down the escalator, we moved past the Tridents, massive beams that were removed from the site and you are walking through the massive basement area where the towers stood.
Down a darkened corridor, you hear the voices of survivors relating their stories of that terrible day that had begun as a lovely September morning.
Pictures of the tower before the event and immediately after surround you as your path spirals downward and you reach the bottom floor of the museum. Standing tall is the last beam removed from the site. It is covered in memorials to those individuals who worked on the site cleanup.
Moving down an escalator, you notice a concrete staircase next to you. This is the “survivor’s staircase”, where many escaped the plaza before the towers collapsed. This was the first artifact to be installed due to its weight.
At the bottom of the staircase, I stopped to listen to a docent as he was giving a talk to a small group of visitors. Afterwards, I learned he had been a firefighter on the site on the day. “This is my way of giving back”, he told me. It surprised me that he could so easily relate his experience but everyone finds a way to deal with tragedy.
Viewing the remnants of the massive cell tower that sat atop the tower was daunting. The fire trucks that were partially collapsed reminded you how fragile seemingly strong machines can be.
Entering the center of the exhibit, a thirty-six foot long, sixty-ton beam dominates the room. Here, there are many artifacts here to view.
Twisted iron beams that were crushed under the weight of a collapsing building, items used by the crews to dig for survivors.
A single glass window from the towers that survived the epic destruction, intact is remarkable.
The interior museum within the museum is where emotions begin to tell the story. No photographs allowed here due to the very personal nature of the artifacts. For me, the most striking exhibit is the Flight 93 voice recordings presented in real time. It is difficult to hear as those men and women knew they would not survive but did everything in their power to stop the attack. They are true heroes. You cannot leave the area without being emotionally moved.
Much has been and will be written about 9-11, the causes and aftermath and you learn about both here. From the rise of terrorism around the world, previous attacks and the steps taken to try and resolve the conflicts. Your emotions will range from grief, pain, and anger to pride and love. You will not forget a visit to this sacred ground.
We can only pray that an event like this never happens again.
Tickets for the museum can be purchased online for timed entry to this unique and meaningful memorial.