A little rainbow formed in the mist of the cascading waterfall.
On our first night in the city we looked down to see a construction zone, a dark void and one tall tower from our hotel window. Could we really be staring down at the World Trade Center? This notion simultaneously felt eery and amazing, making us both self reflective and awestruck. Seeing something on television is very different than witnessing it first hand.
Our first morning in New York we bundled up and walked across the street to see the 9/11 memorial. It was a clear, chilly day with the thermometer hovering in the teens. Just walking onto the grounds was enough to make me feel overcome with emotion. The loss, the tragedy, the families forever changed. I felt as though I could keep it together and then I came across a name followed by "and her unborn child". In that moment, it brought tears to my eyes. In one moment all of a man's hopes, dreams, and possibly his entire future were decimated. Walking around the perimeter of the Twin Tower's footprint reading name after name was a very powerful experience.
Individual names were laser cut on metal ledges circling the actual footprint of where the twin towers once stood. Names were divided between locations ie. flights, Pentagon, World Trade Center etc., but even more touching by association. The families of the victims were able to put friends, family or coworkers next to each other. Cascading pools dropping thirty feet represent where the Twin Towers once stood.
The 9/11 museum is still under construction. This is where several artifacts will be housed which were pulled from the wreckage.
The cascading waterfalls.
We saw several people smiling and taking photographs at the site, for us this just did not seem appropriate. Having people in these shots merely allow you to get a sense of scale.
The infamous survivor tree. The stump of this tree was pulled from the 9/11 wreckage. This tree has been nursed back to health and replanted on the memorial grounds.
Tips for the 9/11 memorial:
1. You have to get your tickets in advance online. They are free, but you must select a date and time. I recommend the moment they open. People always tend to run late or sleep in while they are on vacation, so there were not a lot of people there in the morning: http://www.911memorial.org.
If you do not you can purchase ahead of time you can still go on a tour with either a survivor, family member or another well informed guide, but you will have to pay.
2. Grab a free brochure or do your research before you go. Being knowledgeable about the timeline of events makes it even more impactful.