As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been to NYC before going to Book Expo America a couple of weeks ago. It was in 2006 and we walked by Ground Zero which was just a giant hole in the ground, an excavator still digging out the debris. There was an eerie quietness in the area, which made the hairs stand on my arms. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
On this trip the area, of course, has been transformed. There are the memorial fountains, the amazing new tower, the 9/11 museum and other buildings being built as well as a beautiful grove of saplings.
There was still a reverent quietness about the place, even though there were hundreds of people looking up at the colossal One World Trade Center Tower, reading the names on the fountains and milling around the trees. There was still an aura of respect and solidarity floating in the air.
Looking over into the fountains was mesmerizing, but reading the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11 etched in the fountain edges brought tears to my eyes. Especially the ones who had fresh flowers stuck in their names. It was heart wrenching to think that this place,where people come to visit like a tourist attraction, may be the only burial ground some family members will ever have for their loved ones they lost that day.
I was especially excited to share this experience with my husband knowing that he joined the military shortly after 9/11. Although he was planning on joining before the terrorist attacks, as his grandfather had been in the military, watching 9/11 on his television screen made him even more determined to fight for our country. He could have easily looked at the horror unfolding as the buildings collapsed, knowing the minute he signed up he would be entering a war, and choose to stay at home…but he didn’t. My husband served as a front line Army Medic for a year in Iraq. It was a great honor to get to stand with him at Ground Zero knowing he had fought for them who we honor with the memorial and for our country.
I enjoyed my trip to NYC, but Ground Zero and the surrounding Memorial will always touch my heart as a human being and as an American. Looking up at that impossibly tall tower that’s almost finished gave me a sense of pride knowing that it was a symbol that as Americans we refuse to cower in fear and like a Phoenix we rise up from the ashes stronger than ever.