I have a confession to make, if you go to Ground Zero, then go to the museum. I really wanted to visit One World Observatory and Ground Zero, but chose only to visit the observatory tower and see the reflecting pools. It was a mistake not to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Ironically, I only realized it was a mistake as I reflected on the visit. My wife, Wendi, and I were in town for a very short period of time, and we wanted to see as much as we could. She was in town on business, and we scheduled to have a couple of free days to explore. So, I definitely wanted to go to Ground Zero. Coming out of the subway, we ran into Jose Welch, who was one of the Salvation Army’s first volunteers on site (according to an article in a commemorative magazine he was selling to tourists like us).
Meeting Jose, seeing the photos in the magazines and being at the site was a bit somber, but all that changed for me as we headed to One World Observatory, to get a look at the fabuous New York Skyline.
After sharing a few moments with Jose, we headed to the observatory, where the tagline is “See Forever.”
So, we headed up to the 102 floor, and when we finally made it up the elevators to see the skyline, it was beautiful.
We are looking out the windows of One World Trade Center (and you can walk around the entire building and get a 360-degree view of New York’s beautiful skyline) and taking in the sights, but as I reflected on this back in Wooster, Ohio, I realized, I was so disconnected from the events that happened on September 11, 2001, at the site I was visiting. I wasn’t thinking about he terrorist attacks; I wasn’t thinking about the thousands of people who perished that day; I wasn’t thinking about how our world was changed on that day. No, I was thinking, “Wow, this is beautiful.”
It wasn’t until we made it back down and walked around the reflecting pools where the north and south towers of the World Trade Center once stood that the reality of the day struck me (as well as walking by Ladder Co. 10 and Engine Co. 10 of the Fire Department of New York). The reflecting pools are inscribed with the names of those who died in the attacks.
While Wendi and I were at the reflecting pools, a police officer shouted to a kid, “This is a gravesite. Get down. Don’t stand on it.” A boy was standing on the metal around the pool that is inscribed with the names. The officer’s comment brought the reality of the day into perspective.
Here is a photo from where the south tower once stood:
If you go, then please visit the museum. I wish I had, but our schedule was so packed with things to do and places to see. I am reminded of quote by Sam Kirchinsky from the movie “Avalon” in which he said, “If I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to remember better.” 9/11: Never Forget.