National September 11 Memorial

On a cool crisp California morning in September, the neighborhood children frolicked along the sidewalk. I opened the front door to let in some fresh air and laughter. The house needed a good sweeping. I picked up the broom and set myself upon the task. Suddenly, it occurred to me, why are these kids home from school? "Hey," I called. All looked. "Why are ya'll home from school?" The oldest of the pack was about 12 and he hollered back, "school was canceled." "Really, why?" "The White House was bombed," and off they ran with no concern or comprehension of the magnitude of his statement. The rest of the story is a mournful part of American history. Each and every one of us knows where we were on that fateful day.

Over the last 14 years, construction of the Memorial, Museum, and new Towers are still underway. Immediately after recovering from the devastating attacks, plans began for a memorial commemorating the nearly 3000 victims of the 911 attacks and the 1993 Trade Center bombing. The World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition received over 5000 submissions from 63 countries. The winners, architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, presented a design entitled, 'Reflecting Absence,' with 2 square pools and a forest of trees. The official dedication of the completed waterfalls and tree-lined plaza was on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, September 11, 2011.

World Trade Center, 911 Memorial, World one Tower

This is the New York skyline where the World Trade Towers once stood.

The Memorial's twin reflecting pools sit in the footprints of the twin towers. Each pool is an acre in size. The waterfalls are the largest man-made waterfalls in America. A stark lack of color as the water falls into the void is a powerful reminder of loss as each of the victims names are engraved along the edge.

911 Memorial, NYC,

'Reflecting Absence' of the towers and the lives lost.

911 Memorial, NYC,

Flowers are placed by loved ones throughout the inscription of names.

Soaring skyward is the new One World Trade Center. The tower's 104 stories reach a symbolic height of 1776 feet, the date of American Independence. Two observation decks with 360-degree view opened earlier this year. The line was long and it is best to buy tickets ahead of time to avoid standing in 2 lines, 1 for tickets and the other for the elevators. The footprint of the new tower is equal to the original World Trade Center and is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center through the trees, NYC

Through the Memorial forest of White Oak trees.

A visit to the National September 11 Memorial connects the televised and recorded events to reality. The vacancy of space and cascading waterfalls into a void contribute to my comprehension of the thousands of lives lost. Never having been to New York, the 14 years since the 911 attack was distant and detached. Yes, an important moment in American history but something of the past. 'Reflecting Absence' helped define the magnitude of the loss of human life and the enormity of the void that was once occupied space.

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