Last Friday, I had the opportunity (and privilege) of visiting and touring the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. To say I was blown away is a true understatement. It took my breath away and has preoccupied my mind since. Mind you, I did not live in NYC during the 9/11 attacks, nor did I know anyone who was directly affected. As a result, I had never been overly emotional about it. But visiting the museum changed everything.
It is a bizarre feeling, touring a museum that is dedicated to an event in recent history — not from 40 years ago, but present time. I was an adult (or so I thought I was as a recent college graduate) and remember the day and the aftermath clearly. And yet, 9/11 is not a past event; terrorism and acts of violence continue to be a current part of our everyday life. So, the museum is a visit to a horrible act of the past, but one that continues to persist and be a part of the modern world. Eerie and frightening.
The memorial is beautiful — two big pools with waterfalls in the footprints of the two World Trade Towers. But it is the museum itself which left me teary eyed, speechless, and emotional. The museum honors the nearly 3,000 people who were killed during the World Trade Center attacks. The museum is massive, powerful, and overwhelming, encompassing 110,000 square feet. The memorial and museum together cost $700 million to build.
Inside the museum, in the footprint of the south tower, there is a detailed memorial with photos and information on each victim. In the north tower, there are displays on the attacks and rebuilding efforts. In both of the towers, there are alcoves with movies, photographs, audio, and graphic artifacts. All the videos that I watched were profoundly moving and emotionally exhausting. Each of the rooms have (beautiful) boxes holding tissues — which most people (including myself) needed to use. In between the two galleries, there is open space with large items, tributes, artwork and large scale artifacts from the buildings.
I was given the tour by our good friend, Lynn Rasic, the Executive Vice President of the 9/11 Memorial External Affairs. She led me through the museum for 2 hours, recounting many details — a picture of the youngest victim (2 year old en route to Disneyland) — the videos that impacted her the most, the story of the design. Her dedication to the project, which dealt with the pain and suffering of the families that lost loved ones, to the hope she saw from young firemen touring the museum, to the kindness shared by people during this tragedy, is remarkable. She has worked on the project for the last 13 years, from start to finish. In Lynn’s descriptions during the tour, one could see her passion and dedication to the memorial — remembering the past and learning from it. Thank you, Lynn (and sorry I was so emotional that I forgot to take a picture!). The museum is a moving experience, one that I am looking forward to going through again.
“No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time” —Virgil Aeneid
The 9/11 museum is a must-see. Emotional, overwhelming, and educational. If you live in New York, you must visit it. If you are visiting New York, you must go. MUST SEE.