Saturday, June 28, 2014

Before and After

About thirteen years ago, I saw video footage of the 9/11 attacks on my tv. I don't think I realized that it wasn't a scene from a movie. I didn't even know what the terms "terroists" or "radicals" meant. A year later, I went on a vacation with my parents to New York. I was still really young though, so I barely remember anything from the trip. The only recollections I have are of me complaining about walking and seeing "old stuff" locked up behind glass cases. I didn't enjoy the trip at all, however, my experience this year has been so different in comparison.

We went to eat breakfast, tour NYU, and eat at Lombardi's today, but the place that inspired me the most was the 9/11 Memorial. As we squeezed through construction areas and crowds of people, we started to see tall, shiny buildings. We approached a glossy black fountain with names engraved into it. I ran my fingers across the carvings of the names of 9/11 victims as I walked along the fountain. About three-thousand names could be seen. Ms. Thrift actually asked us what we thought the fountain meant later on in the day, but I've been thinking about it and I see the fountain as a symbol for the hole that still remains in the United States. It's shaped like a hollowed cube which is similar to the base of the World Trade Center and the volume of the cube becomes smaller as it becomes deeper. I think that it represents that as a country, we're healing together over time. The emptiness is slowly fading away, yet the victims of the attack will always cycle through our minds. Maybe that's not what the fountain was made to symbolize though. It's just how I interpret it!
The construction on our way to the memorial
The first thing I saw entering the memorial was a woman crying as she exited. Seeing her cry made me a little overwhelmed, especially because the building was also dark and cold. Voices of victims' family members filled the room. They spoke about their reactions when they heard the news. It was so sad to hear these people talk about the feelings because you could hear their voices trembling and their speech was so solemn. Although I don't have any family or friends who were victims of the attack, I felt like I was connecting to the families of these people. While the majority of the building was black, a blue tiled wall could be seen with the quote "No day shall remove you from the memory of time." Downstairs, there was a room covered by pictures of victims on all sides. There were pictures of newlyweds, senior portraits, families, young children, senior citizens, and servicemen. It was heartbreaking to see that all of these people were killed because of the terrorist attack. 

The more I thought about the attack, the angrier I was. The attack in itself was tragic, but in addition, they purposely chose September 11 since 9-1-1 is America's emergency number. I know there's no reason for someone to hijack planes and kill almost 3000 innocent people. The motives that the Al-Qaeda cited were all due to their religion. Instead of gaining more respect for the Muslim community though, this group shocked everyone and left negative impressions. As a result, countless hate crimes occurred because people assumed that anyone who was Muslim or wore turbans was a terrorist. It's unfortunate to see that the attack lead to more violence because of the hate crimes and wars that are going on. 

Other parts of the museum included artifacts that were retrieved from the scene. There was a separate room where there was a firetruck, notes from victims, pieces of clothing, and recordings of voice-mails. News reports of the event were played and there were pictures of people who jumped from the buildings to escape the fire. Despite the fact that pictures weren't allowed in this room, I didn't take pictures inside the other parts of the building either because it was one of those places where I just wanted to absorb everything that I was seeing. The memorial wasn't like the college campuses where you snap pictures in front of old statues and ivy covered buildings. By the end of the day, I didn't really have a preference on where to go or what to eat anymore. I was just thankful for the day and grateful to have had all these experiences. I realized that the children, teens, and possibly even adults that were killed never got the chance to see these landmarks, spend more time with their families, or even spend the rest of their lives. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this was an incredibly moving place. It was very difficult for me several times even though I knew a lot about it. Your reaction was understandable. Sometimes we need reminders of tragedy so we can try to make sure it doesn't happen again. I love your interpretation of the memorial. When an artist creates something like that, they want a variety of interpretations. That's the point, to make it thought provoking and to be interpreted by each individual in an individual way. Don't apologize for your interpretation--yours is as correct as anybody else's.