Tag Archives: Ground Zero

Visiting the national 9/11 memorial

One of several 9/11 memorial images visitors see as they walk the long path to the entrance

My daughter Lizabeth, a college freshman studying acting at Pace University, called home shortly after she’d visited the newly-opened 9/11 memorial with a group of fellow students. It was clear she’d been teary-eyed – genuinely moved by the enormous losses of that day.

It’s hard to grasp all that is “Ground Zero” until you see it with your own eyes, and those of us who didn’t lose a loved one will never truly understand the depth of grief wrought by the terrorist attacks of that day. But we can honor those lost with a simple act – remembering.

Knowing that I’ve long followed events surrounding development of the 9/11 memorial and museum, Lizabeth took her camera along so she could snap a few photos. She quickly decided, however, that taking pictures felt wrong somehow. This is a place where thousands of Americans died. It’s not, she told me, a tourist attraction.

Parents feel especially proud during such moments. I listened intently as Lizabeth described the experience of walking through the memorial grounds. Every turn brings more and more names of people who died that day. And powerful waves of emotion.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool on Sept. 12, 2011

I thought of Lizabeth as my husband James drove me to the airport last Wednesday morning. As soon as passes to the memorial became available, he thoughtfully reserved a pair so I could experience the site with Lizabeth during my trip to NYC. “Do you think it’s tacky to take photos,” I asked. “No,” he said, “I’m sure lots of people take pictures of the memorial.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” I replied. For once I felt like the lawyer in the family. “Thousands of people died there,” I said. “It’s really a grave site.” He reminded me that people photograph cemeteries all the time. I’m guilty of that myself, of course – but that didn’t make me feel any better about it.

I recalled trips to Washington, D.C. and the many photos I’ve taken at Arlington Memorial Ceremony. Like most people, I photograph the things that have special meaning or the things I most want to remember. For me it’s the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame marking John F. Kennedy’s grave.

Though I planned to visit the 9/11 memorial with Lizabeth last Friday, I ended up going alone on Thursday night after walking by a memorial gift shop near the site where someone had extra passes for admission that evening. I knew Lizabeth wouldn’t mind me going alone, and I was eager to experience the memorial under a starry sky.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool towards the 9/11 museum

Somehow the darkness amplifies all that steel and water, with all the trees and all those names — backlit after nightfall. Two names, in particular, stand out — belonging to two women listed with the words “and unborn child.” A pair of tridents from the “twin towers” inside the 9/11 museum are beautifully lit and visible through the transparent walls of the museum, which will open once completed.

I stayed at a hotel adjacent to the World Trade Center construction site — where I started and ended each day with time spent watching the work in progress that holds such significance for our nation. Giant cranes moving back and forth. Workers in orange and yellow vests dotting the sight both day and night.

A steady stream of patriotic pilgrims head to the site and surrounding areas each day — negotiating crowded streets with everyday New Yorkers bustling between home, office and other haunts. For all the deaths wrought that terrible day ten Septembers ago, this is a place full of life and focused on the future.

— Lynn

Note: Several Arizona cities, including Gilbert and Phoenix, have their own 9/11 memorials. Click here to see images from the National 9/11 Memorial webcam, and here to learn more about the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Coming up: Exploring memorials at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix

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Keeping pace

My youngest daughter, Lizabeth, called Saturday night to tell me about her dorm in New York City. She’s attending Pace University, the closest university to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Her room overlooks a lovely patch of green where she hopes to spot people walking their puppies.

But also Ground Zero, where construction continues on the new World Trade Center. Lizabeth has long lamented much of the country’s singular focus on death and destruction in the aftermath of 9/11. 

She’s focused on the future, eager to see hope and healing rise from the earth so shattered by hatred and loss. She’ll be witness to rebuilding of the World Trade Center each time she looks out her window and strolls the streets of Lower Manhattan.

A courtyard at the Pace NYC campus houses several works of sculpture, including this piece near a 9/11 memorial called the Book of Remembrance (at left)

While most of the events taking place in NYC this week are centered on the tragic losses wrought by 9/11, which we must all take care to remember collectively and alone, many reflect that yearning I see in Lizabeth to move from what has been to what can be. From the tragedy of destruction to the triumph of diversity.

The “91111 Moving Forward Project” invited children eight to 14 to take and upload photographs that “show New York as a city of diversity and forward movement, even during tragedy.” Accepted works are being displayed online and at various NYC locations through Sept 30. (www.notestrokes.com)

“The underlying purpose of the project is to impart things that are positive to young people that have been growing up in New York City since 9/11,” reflects project founder Thomas Riedl. “Young people that have been exposed to many negatives since then.”

The Pace University community will be participating in 9/11-related events in coming days, including several that are open to the public — photography exhibits, symposia, an oral history project and a memorial service. (www.pace.edu/paceremembers911)

This Book of Remembrance at Pace University in NYC lists the names of four students and 43 alumni killed in the 9/11 attacks

They’ll also remember four students and 43 alumni lost to 9/11 — with a reading of names, a release of 47 balloons, a candlelight vigil and more. A community viewing of memorial events at Ground Zero is scheduled for members of the Pace community on 9/11.

Perhaps because my own children were 8, 10 and 12 at the time of the attacks on 9/11, there’s a special place in my heart for the voices of young people directly affected by them. So one event taking place at Pace holds special appeal.

It’s a debut performance of “Ten Years Later: Voices from a Post-9/11 Generation Speak” — an exploration written by 13 young people ages nine to 21 that’ll take place on the stage where Bravo TV films its “Inside The Actors Studio.” Celebrities take note. These kids will be a tough act to follow.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the World Trade Center, visit www.wtc.com, www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress and www.911memorial.org/world-trade-center-history.

Coming up: The 9/11 memorial and museum takes shape, More 9/11 events featuring artworks by youth, Remembering 9/11 through arts and culture

Patriotism & pedestrians

This exhibit space in lower Manhattan gives visitors a taste of the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum scheduled to open to the public on September 12, 2011

Like many Americans, images from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are seered into my soul. Until my recent trip to New York City, I continued to picture Ground Zero as a giant hole in the ground, as a place of emptiness. But when I went to see the site, that image I carry with me wasn’t there. Instead, I found patriotism and pedestrians.

View of World Trade Center construction zone from the 9/11 Memorial Preview Center

The area surrounding Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is teeming with people walking streets full of construction crews and their equipment. Business folk scurrying to and from work, tourists pausing to snap photos and young parents pushing strollers.

A family pauses at one of many windows in an enclosed pedestrian walkway that runs from one side of the World Trade Center construction zone to the other

Those who come to remember 9/11 have several options — including the World Trade Center Tribute Center and the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, where I spent some time during my recent visit. The preview center was packed with people, many standing quiet and still — almost frozen in time as they must have been the day many of us watched events unfolding on our television screens.

This exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site recounts each event and the time it took place

They were reading a timeline of 9/11 events that wraps around the top of the walls, watching video tape accounts of heroism, pausing to reflect over items like the shiny black shoes and crisp white hat that belonged to one of the firefighters who lost his life that day.

This model shows the buildings and reflecting pools taking shape at the WTC site

The completed museum will feature a memorial exhibit commemorating the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 and will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died.

Patches (including one from the Pima County Sheriff) are part of the Lady Liberty exhibit

The 9/11 Memorial Preview Site has a retail area where visitors can buy T-shirts, toys, books and more — many with an NYPD or FDNY theme. Even gold and silver leaves representing the 400 trees to be planted at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I came home with several bookmarks and wristbands, plus information on how to purchase a cobblestone or paver for the memorial plaza.

This poster hangs in the gift shop area of the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site

But I came home with something more. A new image of America in the aftermath of 9/11. The hole in our collective soul is mending. The patriotism and pedestrians at Ground Zero affirm that, though we will never forget, we are forging a future fueled by freedom rather than fear.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for tips on talking with your children about 9/11

Coming up: Finding Frida, New Works Festival, Art meets All-Star Baseball

Update: The 9/11 Memorial is now open to the public (online reservations required) — the museum is still being completed.

Pasta pizza & public art

Yesterday my daughter Lizabeth introduced me to one of the seven wonders of the culinary world–pasta pizza. A little pizza joint near Manhattan’s financial district was our first stop after making the flight from Phoenix to Newark.

Along the way, she gave me a brief walking tour of the area. The Seaport Historic District, Ground Zero, a city park filled with people and public art — which I captured on camera while she patiently put up with my “Stage Mom” musings.

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Today we’re off to Greenwich Village and the Art Gallery District in Chelsea. We’d love to do Shakespeare in the Park this evening, but tickets are hard to come by so we’ll probably have to save that for a future trip.

— Lynn

Note: The three pieces of public art pictured above, all from City Hall Park in lower Manhattan, are Splotch 15, 2005 from the Lewitt Collection in Chester, CT; Three X Four X Three, 1984 — one of several Sol Lewitt Structures in the park; and Pyramid (Muenster), 1987.

Coming up: Gardens & greenery of NYC; Of scooters & subways; “Kickstarter” project supports art near Ground Zero; NYC: The good, the bad and the ugly