In July, I took Piper to New York for a week of dance. It was her first trip to the city and I really looked forward to seeing her experience everything that NYC has to offer. On our first full day, we ventured to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I don’t think either of us expected that this day would have such an emotional affect on us.
It’s easy to say where you were when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. It will forever be etched in our minds, much like the assassination of JFK is for our parents. I didn’t know anyone personally affected or that lost a loved one on 9/11, so it has been easy for me to simply pay respect to the day each year and move forward without an attachment.
One visit to the 9/11 museum has changed me. I’ll admit, embarrassingly, that museums are not my thing. I find them interesting, sure … but to spend an entire day at a museum is not on my list of things to do. Or on Piper’s list for that matter. (My husband and son are the complete opposite!) Piper and I entered the museum and thought we would just do a walk through. We could not get enough … and stayed until the afternoon.
For me, as an adult that vividly remembers the day of September 11, 2001, I can go right back to that time in my life. But, for Piper, who wasn’t even born, it was new. The fact that a group of people did this on purpose was baffling in her mind. She read every sign, every plate, looked at every piece of scrap – trying to make sense of it all.
We spent most of our time in the hall where the museum features photos of every person that lost their life on 9/11. There are some interactive boards that allow you to find out more about the individual and even a small glimpse into how they came into the path of tragedy on that day. Putting names with faces and stories was absolutely heart wrenching. It seemed unfair to not click on every photo to learn more. As a mom, I wanted to hear everyone’s story – almost like it paid a form of respect to their families.
So many young lives. So many beautiful stories. So many accolades and tremendous accomplishments. Our country lost a lot of remarkable people.
There was also an area where you could hear audio recordings from first responders and people who were in the towers during the attacks. You heard first hand their stories of how they attempted to save people, or how they tried to escape, and what they saw. There is also so much in the way of memorabilia from the day. Fire trucks, the door of an airplane, bent steel from where a plane entered one of the towers. To see it in person is just mind-blowing. The heat of the flames, the force of entry, the magnitude of the loss is impossible to put into words.
Piper is a very happy soul. She’s a people-lover and does a tremendous job of seeing the good in everyone. Going through the museum with her, explaining some of the things she was reading, and watching as we got further into the story and knowing that she was understanding the concept of terrorism crushed my soul. I have always tried to shield my kids, and probably moreso Piper, from the meanness of the world. But, there’s no shielding or fluffing up of what happened on September 11. She left heavy and so did I.
After we left the museum, we went to lunch and it was hard to find words for what we had seen. Like so many places in the world, you really need to see it for yourself. Your life and your outlook on so many things will change with just one visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Allow yourself the time to really take it in and do it justice, for yourself and for the families of those who lost their lives.
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