Once inside the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial (no small feat considering the lines and security) the serenity of blue sky and grass contrasts to those television images of chaos and destruction we all saw in the days after a plane was crashed into each of the two twin towers.
Sounds of construction and children's voices have replaced the horrors of that fatal day.
This account will concentrate on the changes that have been made at the site rather than a retelling of what happened or the statistics of the construction.
The most obvious of the changes can be viewed outside the gates of the Memorial grounds. It is the yet unfinished 1 World Trade Center building north of the Memorial North Pool. Standing at 1,776 feet it will be the tallest building in the United States.
The Beautiful1 World Trade Center still under construction
When completed the eight acre memorial area will hold seven structures including two towers, a hotel, museum, transit hub, and the two Memorial Pools, north and south, in the footprints of the destroyed twin towers.
The Memorial Pools are square with water falling on
all four sides. In the center of each is a square pool into
which the water drains for recirculation.
Names of the 2,977 people killed in the Twin Towers destruction
are inscribed in bronze parapets around the two pools. Seeing these
names and knowing each represented a life was very moving for me.
On the parapet above is inscribed at the top the name "Jennifer L.
Howley and her unborn child." This name touched me most.
The day we were there it was very, very crowded mostly because schools were out for Spring Break and students were carried to the memorial by the busload. We were also surprised to learn that tickets are required for entry, but the ones we got were free at the Memorial Visitor Center. I was told the ticket requirement is to slow and moderate the crowds of visitors.
Gate leading to the grounds.
Grounds of the Memorial will eventually be covered in more than
400 swamp white oak trees. The structure in the background of this
photo will be a museum. It is not yet open.
After looking around the grounds and pools, we went into the Visitors' Center. Here a short video was running at one end of the room. It featured 9 people who had lost a spouse or child on 9/11. The web site http://projectrebirth.org gives information about this film and others about destruction.
A fireman's helmet still covered with ash is on display
at the Visitors' Center.
There is an intense police presence at the Memorial site
as there is in all the New York we saw.
Getting the tickets, standing in line, waiting are all a pain, but worth the effort. It is an effort we all should make.