Throwback Thursday: Remembering 9/11

If you've been following my blog for the last year, its no secret that I have fallen in love with New York City. I love the people, the energy, the diversity, the food. Don't get me wrong, its a totally crazy place to live; but its also the best ever.

One of the places I was able to visit several times while living in New York was the 9/11 Memorial. If you've never done this, it is at the top of my list of must dos. I remember the first time we ventured down there. I was a little hesitant to go because I didn't really want to relive the thoughts and feelings I had as a young girl watching those buildings burn. But I immediately felt a change as I stepped foot on that hallowed ground. It is an overwhelmingly bittersweet experience.

I vividly remember watching the events unfold on television. As you walk through the neighborhood, you see street names and images you recognize from the news, and the scenes come flooding back into your mind. I immediately felt sick because I could see the people running from the building, the air thick with dust and debris, sirens whaling and people screaming.  I remember (or maybe imagined) a woman pushing a stroller, just like me. And I was brought to tears imagining how helpless and scary it would be. The world was literally coming crashing down around them, and all they could do was run.

There is a wall that is dedicated to the firefighters and police officers who lost their lives saving others. What heroic souls! I cannot even image what courage it would have taken to turn around and run back into the burning buildings. September 11, 2001 was the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American History. While that is devastating, just imagine how many lives were saved because of those brave men and women. It's humbling that they were willing to make that sacrifice.

As I approached the site I was feeling somber and sick (and frankly scared.) But then the city fades away and this huge plaza opens up. Its full of trees and the sound of rushing water. The plaza is made up of two enormous reflecting pool waterfalls that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers. There are over 400 trees surrounding the waterfalls, many harvested from areas in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania that were also attacked. There is one tree that is roped off and protected which is called The Survivor Tree. It was discovered in the rubble of Ground Zero, severely damaged and burned. They removed it from the site and it was cared for and replanted in 2010. It is now thriving in its original home. How miraculous!

The names of each individual lost are etched into the sides of the reflecting pools. Our most recent visit was in May while Zack's family was in town. We arrived just as the sun was going down and we were able to watch as the names began to light up and glisten in the darkness. Although the memorial is right in the middle of the hustling bustling Financial District of Lower Manhattan, the waterfalls and rustling leaves drown out the city noise and allow peace and serenity at the memorial.  The grand plaza proves that not only will we never forget, but we will always honor those who lost their lives.

While wandering the memorial, you look up and see a magnificent new building. The new One World Trade center is truly breathtaking and it quickly became my favorite building in the city.  Not only does it represent New York City as an icon in the skyline, but it represents America's rebirth from the ashes. We didn't just come back. We came back bigger, stronger, and more magnificent. It will always stand as a message to our enemies. You can try to break us down, but we will always rebuild and we will always overcome!

The resilience that New York City and America have shown since the attacks on September 11, 2001 makes me so proud to be an American and a temporary New Yorker. It is my prayer that America continues to grow and evolve, seeking to spread freedom, and working towards peace. I'm so glad we get to take Gunner here, to teach him about what happened, why it happened, and what it means to be an American. After all, our little ones are the future of America.

What are you memories from that day? How do you honor those who lost their lives for
our freedom?


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