As a non-American visiting New York, I initially felt that seeing Ground Zero was just another tourist experience. However, after passing through the queues and security checkpoints I realized and understood the magnitude of the events that occurred in that particular place that day.
Twelve years ago, I was watching 9/11 unfold via news broadcasts while on a photo shoot in a studio. But it was difficult to really understand the scope of the destruction without seeing the giant space that the World Trade Center once occupied. Not until you stand between the memorials and look up at the newly built One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) that you truly appreciate the scale of the tragedy. Just imagining not one but two massive buildings came crashing down and the horror of the lives lost was truly heartbreaking.
Allow me to share with you this experience that made me change my perception of 9/11 and of life in general.
Our hotel was just literally a few steps away from Ground Zero so we just walked going there. We couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like if we were in the same hotel that very moment the attacks happened.
We walked past the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) where they installed the Fire Dept. Memorial Wall honoring the firemen who died in service during 9/11.
The line was long but moving quite fast so waiting time was bearable. Here are some images while on queue.
There were two square pools where the towers used to stand (North and South Towers). The pools were breathtaking! The perimeter of each pool had fountains that dropped water to the bottom of the pools.
It wasn’t overly crowded considering it was the holidays. There were plenty of room to move around the memorial.
Seeing the whole area being a flurry of construction is bittersweet for me. WTC will never be the same again but I have to give it to the New Yorkers for their fortitude in developing the site again.
It was a surreal experience. There was a point when we were just standing still, staring at the water, touching the etched names, not talking for a few minutes offering a silent prayer. I have no connection to the site nor did I personally know anyone who was affected but the way I see it, 9/11 wasn’t just a New York thing. It touched the entire world.
“At this moment 12 years ago, millions of Americans went to bed quietly with no thought that the next morning their world would change forever…. So tonight if you have people in your life that you love, tell them”