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The 911 Memorial... New York

From the beauty of Central Park to the sadness of the newly opened 911 Memorial, our hearts were full. Both events brought with them an all consuming, in the moment, gift.  One of such beauty and light.  Laughter and brightness.  A sign of hope and renewal each season and each year.  The other the sadness of loss, the vulnerability of life, the strength of the human spirit and then, like the Park, the signs of renewal.  

On our last day in the City we decided to visit the 911 Memorial..It is an amazing tribute to all that happened on that September day.  It took hours and a slowness that I'm  not usually good at.  I took my time, took it all in and tried to imagine what life must have been like in the United States on 911.  Jim and I were in Venice Italy, a complete contrast to the horror going on here.  So this was my 911 experience and it was chilling..

The very large photo above is what greets you as you enter the lobby of the Memorial.  They are the new reflection towers that rise above the resting places of the former twin towers.  They also reflect in the North Pool and the South pool.  It is a bright, airy entrance, but very quickly it turns dark and dreary and honest.  

As we went down the stairs it got colder and darker and I actually was wondering if I was going to make it through.  In the past, I have been treated for agoraphobia, and sometimes it roars it's ugly head.  This was one of those times.  The crowds were more than I like to share space with and as we descended to the bottom the darkness grew.  I also had no idea of how big, or how long the journey was.  I usually do o.k. if I can find my way out.  I think what happened for me on this journey was, I reached a point of no return, both figuratively and mentally.  I really wanted to be a part of that day, finally.  I wanted to see what you all experienced.  I wanted to see what my kids felt, smelled and saw.  How they survived without either myself or their Dad here to help alleviate their fear.  My hope is that because they only had each other and my Mom that it brought them together on a level that will have so much meaning for them as life goes on. A stronger connection for having shared this horrific event.  So I moved on.  One step at a time.



This was one of the Reflection towers outside of the Memorial can see a bit of the second Reflection tower on the right.  You don't need a map to get here...just look up.

The Reflection towers stand by the two pools, the North Pool and the South Pool...the pools are built where the base of the two towers stood before the attack.  Both pools have the names of the victims embossed in them, the North pool...represent Flight 11.   The south pool represents First Responders, Flight 175, the Pentagon, Fight 77 and Flight 93. It is a sobering experience to see the names and the little holes drilled in next to each name, big enough to hold a flower stem, for anyone who wants to leave one.  My aunt lost her niece on Flight 11, she was the head stewardess so we put a pink rose there for Susan.

This is the before photo as you start your walk down the stairs...inside the Memorial.  New York has always had a beautiful skyline..

This is now looking down into the basement of the tower...I don't remember which one.  The tall center piece list all the names of the fights and rescue equiptment that went in that day.  As we decend, it gets colder and darker.

Now we are in the basement of one of the Towers...they were able to save this in the excavation process...really rather amazing and scary.  The original strength of the tower...still standing.  Of course they had a rail up so that it was not touchable.  

A portrait of the skyline at night.  So beautiful.  A reminded at the bottom of what it used to represent as you entered the city by plane.  

A short distance from the photo above...this shot of the moving in the water...not such a pretty scene...

All along the base of that original basement, with all that steel on the floor bottom, above were photo's and written words of the tragic event and then the process of building this this time I had forgotten my fears and was in this state of sheer amazement at not only the process of what this re-building must have been like but the gratitude for all who took the job on.  For the love of their the city and the people and to show honor to those who gave their life in the great tragedy.  I don't think I have ever been moved so much.

Then came the aritfacts from that day...this is the fire truck from Ladder Company 3. the first truck on the scene I believe...

I'm hoping that you might be able to read this does explain it better than I could.

This is the back end of Ladder 3.  On the other side the tires were just blown out...I was in tears by this point, trying very hard to hold it together as I thought of what I had missed and I was surely getting the message of how much our world had changed because of this one day in history.

I was drained when we exited the Memorial.  So many thoughts swirling through my head.  When the attack happened and I wasn't here..I could think and process in a less emotional way.  We didn't return for another week.  That is another story for another day...getting on a plane after this event.  As we came back out to sunshine and bright skies, I just breathed in the fresh much as I could get.  I now, on a different scale, felt what my fellow American's felt on that fatal day.  I saw the devastation and the destruction.  I processed it all over again 14 years later with a much different perspective.  Just outside the exit door there is a small dedication plaque...and this beautiful wreath was there to honor all who live beneath these towers. The flowers are replaced on a regular basis...I like to think of it as an honor to all who lost their lives that day but also as a bright reminder that life goes on and beauty can still exist in the ashes of destruction. I had never been prouder to be an American than I was on this day.  So many tragedies both below and above, some still fighting their fight for the midst of it all New York still stands proud and it retains it's beauty, both in the space here and in it's people.


Back on top, life goes on.  Tall buildings still stand, people going about their daily lives...horns tooting. I was over-stimulted...I'm so glad we came to the Memorial on our last day in the city.  It was all that I could have wanted.  I was also drained and ready to go home to my little tiny town.

One last shot as I walk home to our hotel...real life. It doesn't stop but only for a moment. Work and pleasure is what keeps us strong and alive.  A purpose.  We are all colorful threads, sewn together in the fabric of life. Our purpose in life should be to help each other in difficult times, to be a shoulder to lean on when we think we can't take another step...and together we can build and unify over and over again...New York has so many lessons to moment, one day, one trip at a time...I'll be back.

I know this is a very long post but I think most of you know that my blog is also my personal journal. Sometimes, something touches me deeply and I can't explain it in a few words or a few photo's...This journey was one of those times...Life is beautiful, I am so fortunate, but sometimes we feel our own pain and sometimes we take on the sorrow of our fellow man.  I felt all of that on this trip.

About the photo's...all of them were taken with the Fuji X-E2...For the most part they are straight out of the camera...except for a bit of adjustment in the exposure and shadows.  None have any filters and only one has a pre-set.  I felt it was really important to share the photo's of the Memorial as real as I could.  I did not want it to be overshadowed by fancy editing.  I feel this way about most of my nature's just who I am...not to say that I don't use editing for creative purposes, because I do.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of New York City...a city that never sleeps.  The energy brings such a creative power.  The people, the food and the old fashion neighborhoods where people still sit on the stoop or in little parks, corner stores.  All of this would have reminded me of the "good ole days"...and then along came 911...but like the people that dwell in this city, I to, will not let that day define me.  Life is to be lived...New York, New York...your a HELLA OF A TOWN...

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Reader Comments (16)

Cheryl. You have brought back so many emotions with this post. My husband worked in tower one, the first tower to be hit. It took him an hour and a half to evacuate, and as he exited onto the street of rubble, his tower began to come down. It was a nightmare that day, for sure. We lost friends, we lost so much. But he survived and our lives together grew stronger. His company actually moved back into one of the buildings there at the new site last fall (so many emotions about that). Your words, your photos, the care you gave in visiting when you felt you might not be able to, and the care you gave in telling your story are appreciated. Thank you for sharing Cheryl. (My husband and I will be visiting this site this weekend to place flowers on the names of his friends at the reflecting pools).

August 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Salcedo

Oh Judy just reading your comment brings me to tears...You and your husband are survivors of the higest quality. I can't imagine the fear he faced and you along with him...This was but a tiny piece of that many articles found amongst the rubble and carefully saved and preserved...just amazing...
I hope your trip back is healing in some way for the two of you but I can't help but think it will also require strength to see it through...please let me know your thoughts when you return...and thank you for your beautiful comment here...xo

August 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Well, I could just cry right now. Reading this... it is just full of deep emotion and I'm sad you missed the event, in a way. It was horrific, even though I was so far from it in another state. It's one of those times when TV shares so much, and a day I remember as well as the day John Kennedy was shot, 911 I remember who told me, I remember standing in the office in unbelievable amazement. Your beautifully captured photos with your lovely X-E2 (I want one) what is now, and what was. Your words are beyond anything I could ever write. This post itself is a true memorial to that day! 💔 Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your photos.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

Thank you so much, Cheryl, again. I remember exactly where I was when the news broke on TV...another memory I shall never forget. You should run this blog every 10 years to remind those of us who lived it, and for those that do not remember it.
"Lest we forget...."

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClarey

What a beautiful but yet sad place, love this post-Cheryl, such wonderful photography shots. I would love to see this one day.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Hurst

Cheryl, It is not likely I will ever make it to NY to visit the 9/11 Memorial and I am so grateful to share in the experience through your eyes. Like you I do not handle crowds and places with no obvious escape route well, and it hurts every fiber of my being to imagine what these folks endured. Just as your friends above have commented, I remember that day so vividly. My husband was working in Washington DC and it was well into the next day before he arrived home. The panic and pain were everywhere. Your blog post is a moving tribute and a reminder of the frailty and beauty of this life - and it's not one word too long - expressed with eloquence and sincerity. Thank you.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Dearest is so unpredictable...who would have know I would have been across the pond at this time in history. At that time, my worry was for my kids...I think if you were an matter where you were standing on that day, here or miles away, it was all pretty scary...Thank you for your constant support and your loving attention to detail in your comments.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Clarey I so love when you are so special to me and to have you be a part of this for me, is a gift. I think of you and Susan everything I think of 911...the loss of your lovely niece, in such devestation, I'm sure was hard to bear...I love you, dear Aunt...forever and ever...xo

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Dear Barbara...thank you for your visit...I think it would be lovely for every American to visit this tribute in New York city. I know it's not practical for most but it sure does drive the point home after standing on that hallowed ground.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Thank you Donna...your words always soothe me and let me know that I am doing just what I should be doing at this moment in time...You have a gift for words, for telling the story comes from deep within are a gift and I'm happy to share my view of the world with you.xo

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Dearest Cheryl,
Just this evening we were walking by a bench in our seaside town, dedicated to a local boy who was lost in the 911 devastation. I cannot pass by the memorial without tears in my eyes. Your words and images have left me speechless and in a trance-like state. Raw emotion here . . . and the fact you were able to persevere into the basement, speaks volumes of your strength and fortitude . . . you are my Shero, Cheryl . . . I'll be back when I find my voice.

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

What an amazing post. I remember that day so vividly. I couldn't tear myself away from the tv. I hope to see this memorial some day - thank you for sharing.

August 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpam

Beautiful post Cheryl captures the emotion perfectly.

August 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Thank you all for your was a hard one to write but an important one for me..moving on...

September 3, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

This is a very beautiful and moving post Cheryl...We've all been so stunned here in France on this unbelievable and unforgettable day and as many of you, I will never forget every second of that afternoon (it was around 3 p.m. in France), where exactly I stood and what I precisely was doing, then stuck for hours in front of CNN channel we had at home at that time, and then the urge to inform friends and family who were at school or at work at that time of the day and share our emotions... I remember I couldn't help crying with one of my daughter who was at home in front of such unconceivable horror and tragedy... Your post, Cheryl is so moving in the way that it takes us 14 years back and emotion and sadness are still here today and when we understand how the city of New York and its citizens have recovered, how love and struggle for life seems to be stronger than anything... I'll always feel so much admiration for the Newyorkers who have been so dramatically struck in their bodies and their souls and for the strength and solidarity they showed on that day and after.
Thank you Cheryl for sharing the beautiful pictures of your visit to the memorial and your so moving tribute to all the people who have suffered in that chaos.

September 4, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterodile lm

Such a beautifully moving post Cheryl that takes us with you to the memorial. I hope I can visit it myself one day.
I left the USA with my family in 1972, age 11, bound for a new life in Scotland. We had been living in NJ & my dad worked in the city. My last glimpse of NYC was of the skyline with 2 half built twin towers already reaching far into the sky. 29 years later, half a world away in London, I had just picked up my 2 small children from school & we stopped off at a new local store to pick up some groceries. That's where I got the news from another mum who had just heard about the attacks. What I remember, strangely, in that weird way things are imprinted on memory at momentous times, was enjoying the sparkling new store with its welcome air conditioning- a new thing for British stores then- while hearing of an incomprehensible terrorist attack in NYC. We rushed home & I turned on the TV, still not quite believing or understanding what was going on, to find the footage that horrified most of the world. I sat for hours watching till I could take no more. A couple of days later an American friend who, like you, was abroad in Germany, flew in to visit. We'd been looking forward to our time together in London. We hadn't expected to meet again in a changed world with guards at Heathrow armed with machine guns. She was so upset & desperate to get home- we spent most of one of her few days in London trying to get her on an earlier flight home. She lives in Colorado but still felt the need to get home. We did have one day to explore the sights of London before she left on her new flight back- I bought myself a silver bracelet in Covent Garden with her & I have worn it every day since... It's my reminder of 911.
As awful as it was, I had to concentrate on the demand of raising my children. Slowly, as I watched TV documentaries on the 1st then 5th anniversaries of the attack, the sheer awfulness of what had happened sunk in. It's a hard thing to process. I'm glad that you were able to experience & process this pivotal event of American history- thank you for sharing your experience with us. X

September 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

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