Never in my wildest dreams did I think I will be able to write a post like this. Visiting a place before and after something tragic happens is something not many people get to experience. This is also the case for travelers that visited Indonesia and Sri Lanka before and after the 2004 tsunami. Unfortunately I had a chance to experience just that and it was horrible and extraordinary for many reasons. This is WTC in my own words.
As a little girl I traveled to New York with my parents in 1994. I was a kid and didn’t know what World Trade Center was nor that I was supposed to admire it. Let’s face it – NYC is full of skyscrapers. It’s known for it and as a child I was too busy admiring the tallest buildings I had ever seen (and searching for the famous FAO Schwarz store) to understand how many people call the Twin Towers their second home.
My parents took me to the top of the South Tower where the observation deck was located. Was it amazing? Sure. But I guess I was too young to appreciate it.
Many years had pass (I won’t get into how many) and my husband and I choose New York for one of our 3 destinations for our honeymoon. We spend only 4 days in the Big Apple but they were intense. And the WTC Memorial & Museum was the first spot we visited. Although over 17 years have passed the topic of terrorism is still very much alive. Not only in Europe but also in New York where the events of 9/11 are still remembered.
The difference between the citizens of New York and other countries/cities stands out the most is in my opinion is the way they look at the attacks. I visited Berlin after the driver drove in the Christmas market a few days before the holidays. The next year nothing has changed – the place wasn’t secured and no extra police forces were visible. New York on the other hand is all about the “what’s next”. How to avoid the tragedy of repeating itself, what to do to remember, but still be stronger. I loved it.
The memorial and museum? Extraordinary. The way in which the legacy and memory of the victims is still alive brought me to tears. Even if you’re lucky, and didn’t lose anyone close to your heart during the attacks you can help but get to know the people who died that day. Their names, their photos, their stories and belongings can be found everywhere. Once you match a name with a face of a person who will no longer return home, hear their families stories about them or see their key card or shoes – you just feel the pain. Or at least I did.
I read a lot about the Memorial & Museum before we visited it. Not only about the attacks but mostly about what I will find inside. And still the content of the venue surprised me. From the blue wall behind which are still the remains of the unidentified victims to the room with the photos of everyone who lost their life that day. One room after another was more overwhelming.
The road through the museum is filled with emotions. Each room shows more and more the human dimension of the tragedy. The final rooms however were too much for me to handle. The personal belonging of the people – their shoes, purses, wallets, documents that one day were important to them all were displayed in a museum. On the walls you could see their photos shown on “missing” posters and picking one of many phones allowed you to hear their voices while they were saying goodbye to their loved ones.
We ran out of the museum. It was too much for us to handle. I can only hope one day I will be strong enough to go through the whole venue. Maybe one day.