“No Day Shall Erase You from the Memory of Time,” a quote by the famous Roman poet Virgil displays prominently in the main hall of the 9/11 Museum.
The quote captures the purpose and spirit of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. To remember the fallen, the innocent, and the rescue workers who gave their lives to save others. Walk back in time to celebrate the great workmanship that went into the building of the World Trade Centers in the late 1960’s and 70’s, and the men and women who worked within their walls.
The events of 9/11 are forever embedded in my heart and mind. I remember seeing United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center live on television like it was yesterday. Less than an hour later I watched the South Tower come crashing to the earth. Less than 30 minutes afterward the North Tower follows suit. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York City was personal.
Entering the 9/11 Museum
As I enter the museum, the low lighting and dark cherry flooring create a somber feeling. Visitor voices, reduce to a whisper, without any prompting, as plaques and videos recount the moments leading to the attacks and images of the fallen grace the screens. It has a sacred feel to it as if I was walking on hallowed ground.
A lump catches in my throat as I scan the rotating wall of missing person posters in search of loved ones. Mothers, fathers, family members, and friends clinging to the hope that they might once again see their loved ones alive. One stands out, “Have You Seen My Daddy?” scribbled in a child’s handwriting.
It’s surreal to watch a film replaying the commercial jets striking the Twin Towers. Icons I visited with my family just a few months before the September 11 attacks, made it all the more real. Eileen, a museum curator, tells the story of the forgotten stairwell that lead the survivors to safety.
It withstood the fall of the towers, left for the wrecking balls until local residents and victim’s family members fought to preserve the piece of history. It was moved to the museum as an exhibit and is now known as the survivor stairs.
9/11 Memorial – Remembrance for the Community
It is clear, the design, architecture, and displays within the walls of the museum are very personal to the local community and residents of New York and New Jersey. Among the most touching displays are a painting created by local school children. The painting depicts the American Flag and icons such as the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers from the World Trade Center. The words to America the Beautiful are written on the Painting.
The National Tribute Quilt contains squares sewn to reflect the New York skyline, remembering each of the victims on the ground along with those on flights 11, 93, 175, and 77.
The Tribute Walk is a section of the museum, which focuses on the nearly 3,000 victims. Voice mail messages replay, photographs hang of each of the victims, and tributes describe the loss in the voices of family and friends.
They tell stories from their lives, and you leave feeling like you better understand who they were as individuals. You feel the sense of the young lives filled with hope and eagerness, cut short by the terrorist attacks.
The Ladder 3 fire truck sits at the center of a walkway in its wrecked condition. A tribute wall details the rescue efforts of hundreds of firefighters, police, and members of the port authority. The wall retells the rescuers’ story of many who did not make it out of the collapsing buildings.
Reflecting on Our History
I emerge from the somber museum and visit the memorial dedicated to the lives lost through an infinity pool. The sun blazes hot, reminding me that life moves forward even in the midst of such tragic events. Names engraved in the granite stone surround the infinity pool. A park-like atmosphere provides tables and chairs for all to enjoy.
Touring a museum commemorating events which happened in my lifetime provides a different experience from those which happened before I lived. It’s more personal and more real because it hits home. When I visit museums from previous eras of history, there is a sense of our past and a reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to travel to improve humanity.
Museums like the 9/11 Museum can be hard to experience because of the stark reminder that evil exists in a very real way. There are those who live among us with no regard for human life and bringing harm to others. Yet, without the reminders of who we are as a nation, we are destined to relive the past in all its horror.
The 9/11 Museum captures the spirit of those who died. It recounts the details of the attack and the rescue efforts which saved thousands of lives. There is also a celebration of the American spirit. And how the community and the country rallied together both during and after to heal as a nation.