Never Forget

January 18, 2017

While we were in New York we made a trip to see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Not an easy task, but as my long-time therapist always said to me, “Pain needs a witness.” There are life’s moments when we all knew exactly where we were when they happened. For me it was JFK’s assassination and 9/11.

The museum honors the almost 3000 people who lost their lives in the attacks as well as the first responders and those who continued to work on behalf of these souls, many of them to this day. I knew it would be hard to see, and it was. But it was also uplifting to again remember the way America united during those horrible days.

Not an easy task, but as my long-time therapist always said to me, “Pain needs a witness.”

For those who knew someone, there is an In Memoriam area with photographs and information on everyone who lost their life that day. The September 11, 2001 Historical Exhibition is a self-guided timeline of the events, what led up to the attack and the aftermath. This series of rooms allows for visitors to decide how much of the horror they were up to re-experiencing; many alcoves had signs that warned of difficult material (and provided boxes of tissues). So many of us remember it as though it were yesterday and didn’t need to see it again. Many of the artifacts I remembered seeing on TV, as we were glued to 24-hour news channels for months after the attacks. And some I saw in person; hoping to support New York City in the weeks after the attack a group of us decided upon a business dinner in the city from offices in New Jersey. On one stretch of the West Side Highway was a bus enclosure with posters of missing people placed there by their loved ones. You could have heard a pin drop as we passed.

While photography was prohibited in the Historical Exhibition space, other areas allowed it. Some of the images I recorded were of the piece of steel located at the point of impact of Flight 11 in the North Tower, and the last steel column ceremoniously removed from the WTC site, inscribed with the counts of emergency responder victims (and civilians on the back side).

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But the most numbing was the wall of various shades of blue with the Virgil quote, “No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time.” The plaque below it read, “Reposed behind this wall are the remains of many who perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11th, 2001.” The repository is maintained by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York. The wall of blue squares? It is an artist’s installation composed of 2,983 watercolor drawings, the artist’s attempt to remember the color of the sky that day. Any of us in the Northeast do remember the color of the sky that day. It was a perfect September sky, so crisp and clear and etched into our memories forever. I spent a long time looking at the repository wall. The color of the sky wasn’t there.

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May the Freedom Tower remain free, and may we never forget.

Deborah

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