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 began 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 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 scared 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.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Presidential Library System in 1939 to serve as a repository for the documents of his administration. The library opened in 1941. Roosevelt stated that “. . . a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”
Today, the library campus which sits beside the Hudson River is maintained by the National Park Service. It is located an hour and forty-five minutes drive from New York City and comprised of five areas: the Hyde Park residence “Springwood”, stables, garden, library/museum and welcome center for visitors.
Your Ranger led tour begins in the Welcome Center standing around a large inlaid map of the surrounding New York area.
This map assists visitors in learning about the history of the area. The Roosevelt family had been in the New York region since the 1600’s. With an overview of the family legacy, you then board a tram or walk to Springwood, the Hyde Park residence.
Springwood is the house where Franklin was born and raised. Springwood was never owned by FDR, it was inherited by his mother, Sarah, and she ruled the roost. That was something that Eleanor came to know all too well. The house had electrical power in 1908 and was enlarged in 1915 adding two wings to accommodate the growing size of the family. He was in residence some two hundred times during his four presidential terms, giving it the name the “Summer White House”. Springwood is as it was when Roosevelt died at age sixty-three in 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia. Each item in the home is authentic and boosts a large collection of bird specimens as well as naval art. The bell that was rung to alert everyone that it was time for dinner is a four hundred year old Tibetan bell.
Franklin was born is 1882. He loved sailing, collecting Navy memorabilia and he wanted to attend Annapolis, but instead would graduate from Harvard and follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. FDR married Eleanor in 1905. They had four sons and a daughter. He was nominated for Vice President in 1920 but was defeated by Calvin Coolidge. He began his political career with his election to the state senate in 1910. Franklin was stricken with polio in 1921 at age thirty-nine after a visit to a Boy Scout camp in Canada, Campobello. Eleanor stayed by his side during his illness. He visited Warm Springs Georgia in 1927 which was known for its hot springs and boasted cures for polio and would go on to found the Georgia Warm Springs foundation therapy center for polio victims. He also purchased property in Warm Springs which would serve as his “Little White House”. See my companion post on Warm Springs: https://roadrunnerjourneys.com/2018/07/09/fdrslittle-white-house/. Franklin closely guarded the fact of his paralysis from polio. He requested that the press not photograph him in a wheelchair because he knew that the county would not elect someone in a wheelchair. While this was most likely the biggest open secret in the world, the press honored the request and did not publish photographs of the President in a wheelchair. In fact, the library only has 4 photographs of the FDR in a wheelchair.
Franklin was elected Governor of New York in 1928 then went on to be elected President in 1932 and would go on to be our longest servicing president, four terms, until his death in 1945.
His rooms at the estate consisted of a bedroom, dressing room and a sleeping porch with views of the Hudson. Eleanor’s room was adjacent to his.
The President hosted King George VI at Springwood in 1936. Franklin’s mother was aghast as the King viewed the many British political cartoons that the decorated the walls of the residence. He remarked of the cartoon collection, “…you have some that I don’t have in mine.” It was during this same visit that the King was photographed eating a hotdog at a picnic. That caused quite a stir in the press. How could the President serve the King of England a hot dog!
The stables at Springwood were built by Franklin’s father, James, because of his interest in horse breeding. Eleanor housed prize winning horses there as well.
The gardens are located just behind the museum and serves as both Franklin and Eleanor’s final resting place. Franklin is interred in front of the grave marker. Eleanor is buried next to Franklin. His precious prized dog, Fala was also placed near them.
The Presidential Museum is located between the home and the welcome center. The stone façade building was designed by Franklin as an archive for his presidential documents.
It has two floors of exhibits and artifacts from both of the Roosevelt’s careers. The permanent collection boasts his presidential desk and numerous other artifacts from both Franklin and Eleanor’s careers.
Eleanor is well represented in the museum with a display of some of her twenty-seven books, her typewriter and the suitcase that she carried around the world.
While the Roosevelt’s were a well matched political duo, Eleanor did not seek the political life. In 1918, she discovered that Franklin had an affair with Lucy Mercer. She said of the discovery, “The bottom dropped out of my own particular world…,” The couple remained married most likely because Franklin’s mother and other aids believed that a divorce would have been be political suicide. Both Franklin and Eleanor’s legacies of inclusion endure today.
The library hosted its 75th anniversary in July.
Posting from March.