Travel · United States

Remembering 9/11: 14 Years Later

Where were you the morning two airplanes struck the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001? That is a question I’m sure people ask year after year. Here is my brief story and tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Having just moved to Oklahoma from Colorado in July 2001, I was still very new to this tiny town I call home. I had just started 5th grade and school had only been in session a few weeks. Students were just arriving at school, waiting for the first bell to ring that morning. We were ushered off the playground to our homeroom classrooms. The teacher wheeled in one of those ancient box TV’s and that’s when we saw the tragedy that had occurred. The second plane had just struck the south tower at 8:03AM CST. At 8:59AM CST, we watched the south tower collapse live on TV followed by the north tower at 9:28AM CST. We spent the remainder of that day glued to the TV in our classrooms praying for everyone involved.

A good friend and classmate of mine said, “I can remember our teacher wheeling the TV in the room and then spending all day in the auditorium watching the little TV at the front.”

Even now, 14 years later, September 11th is still a somber day.

I remember when they opened the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, I said, “I will go there one day and pay my respects.” That day happened this past March.

The weather that particular March day was cold, dreary, and rainy, much like the overall mood surrounding the Memorial. People were gathered all around the two large reflection pools, imprints of where the two towers once stood, with wandering minds. Some were taking pictures, some were crying, and some were praying. Walking around each reflection pool, we would come upon a white rose placed on a person’s name, marking their birthday. My thoughts strayed to what these people would be doing today if they were still alive. What if they had called in sick to work that day or were scheduled to take vacation that week but something came up?

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Cindy and I spent a few hours taking in the memorial before we were scheduled to go through the museum. We spent about 3.5 hours walking through the museum with countless others, and unfortunately ran out of time to see everything as they were closing.

One particular part of the museum that struck me the most was a little alcove tucked back in a corner with signs warning of graphic/disturbing content. Lining this alcove were pictures of the victims falling from the burning towers. Eyewitnesses spoke of people holding hands as they jumped, while another stated that he watched a woman, in her final act of modesty, hold down her skirt as she jumped. There has been a lot of controversy over these people, but I am not here to start a debate. As with many others, I left this quiet little alcove with snot and tears running down my face admiring the courage it took for these people to do what they did.

The number of recoverable pieces of the towers as well as artifacts of people is unbelievable, some 10,000. Each artifact that was donated to the museum came with a story, and as you can imagine, was heart-wrenching. There was everything from shoes to eyeglasses to cell phones to melted helmets worn by firefighters.

Photo taken from http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/14/us/9-11-museum-objects/
Photo taken from http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/14/us/9-11-museum-objects/

Other artifacts in the museum include a melted ambulance, firetruck, elevator motor, steel beams, and much more.

Shirt worn by Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden: Photo taken by me
Shirt worn by Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden: Photo taken by me
The ONLY window that remained in tact after the collapse: Photo taken by me
The ONLY window that remained intact after the collapse: Photo taken by me
Building Structure: Photo taken by me
Bent steel from the South tower: Photo taken by me
A piece of the building structure: Photo taken by me
A piece of the building structure near where the first plane impacted the North tower: Photo taken by me
Fire Engine: Photo Taken by me
Fire Engine: Photo Taken by me
Elevator Motor: Photo taken by me
Elevator Motor: Photo taken by me
Radio Antenna: Photo taken by me
A fraction of the 360′ tall radio antenna that stood atop the North tower: Photo taken by me
Radio Antenna: Photo taken by me
A fraction of the 360′ tall radio antenna that stood atop the North tower: Photo taken by me
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Behind this wall, the unidentified victims’ remains are stored. Photo taken by me.
Survivor Stairs: Photo taken by me
Survivor Stairs: Photo taken by me
Photo taken by me
The Last Column – the final beam removed from Ground Zero. Photo taken by me.
<> on May 14, 2014 in New York City.
Burnt Ambulance: Photo taken from: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/14/us/9-11-museum-objects

Many parts of the museum allow pictures, but a large portion does not allow them, such as the ambulance pictured above. The “timeline” area of the museum does not allow photography of any kind. This area shows the pictures of the victims, personal possessions, cards and signs made for the memorial, information on the terrorists, and voicemails from victims in the towers and aboard the planes.

We left the museum that night in the pouring rain with heavy hearts. I hope one day to be able to go back and visit the museum with Brady in tow and get through it in its entirety this time. You can purchase tickets up to 3 months in advance for the museum here.

I, like most of us, will never understand why these men could do this to innocent people. What possesses someone to sign up for a mission like this knowing that they will kill thousands of people, including themselves, all so one man can have satisfaction? It’s downright sickening. These men didn’t just hurt these people and their families, they hurt our nation as a whole.

Can’t make it to the museum? Click below to take an interactive tour.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September Day? – Alan Jackson

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