Over Labor Day weekend I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (https://www.911memorial.org/museum). I have visited the Memorial before, but not the Museum. I had heard from friends and colleagues that the Museum was a powerful experience, but I could not mentally frame what that experience would be like prior to actually experiencing it.
I still remember September 11, 2001 with striking clarity. It has remained suspended in my mind and continues to weigh on me. I recall watching the attacks on live television after the first plane hit and trying to absorb the horror of what had happened. All these years later, 16 years now, I still go back to that point in time when I think about 9/11.
And that is where I was when I entered the 9/11 Museum, at a point of raw receptiveness still trying to fully absorb the horror of it all. I do not know why that was my starting point. I teach emergency management, I have read and watched so many things about this tragic event, and I have come to know so many folks who responded or lost folks in the event – I have room for much deeper context and expanded understanding. I do not understand why I was not more clinical or more detached given all the details I know and all the time I have spent over the years intellectually examining all the things that came to pass that sad day.
Alas, sorrow does not dwell as much in our intellect as it does in our soul, and one cannot walk amongst the artifacts of that day and the days that followed absent a recognition of the scars that we bear individually and collectively as a nation. From the twisted steel to the faces and stories of the victims to the responsive and recovery efforts – all these things tell the story of a horror and loss we dare not forget.
It was, as I was told it would be, a powerful experience. I think it the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a place that everyone should visit. The history captured there, in both a structural and an emotional sense, is a necessary reminder and a somber remembrance of what has become part of our nation’s DNA. We must never forget all that was lost that day and those who responded with courage and character.
Many of the first responders and public workers who spent time on or around the site have fallen ill or died based on their efforts. That is in addition to carrying the weight of the memories of this event with them. We sometimes forget that so many of our heroes are now also victims. The ripple effect of this event extends far beyond response, recovery, and memorial efforts – the toll has been merciless and sweeping.
So today I share a few photos of my recent trip to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with the hope that you will remember all that was lost and sacrificed in regard to the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93. The heartbreak must be remembered to fully honor those who have perished and who still struggle as a result of this event. May your soul never forget what we lost that day.
A somber day of remembrance in the new forty – obla di obla da