Remembering the Past at the 9/11 Memorial Pools in New York City

Remembering the Past at the 9/11 Memorial Pools in New York City

with 15 Comments

Moments that shape the world shape you too. 9/11 has shaped generations.

And we all have our own story to tell…

 

On September 11, 2001, I was in Paris with Kerstin. It was her first time in the French capital, and I promised her I would show her my Paris. When the hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, we were in the metro. The guy next to us told his friend: the first plane came from the side, like this… and then went right into the tower. And then there was a second plane… It’s crazy!

 

We thought he was talking about a video game, although he sounded quite serious. It must have been around 7pm as we returned to the tiny cramped hotel room to freshen up before dinner. We turned on the TV and wondered why every channel was showing the same weird American action movie. It took us some time to realize what was really happening…

 

And 15 years later, all these bitter and queer memories come back to us,

as we are facing the 9/11 Memorial on Ground Zero.

 

The two reflecting pools with waterfalls built on the footprints of the Twin Towers are among the most impressive tributes of remembrance I have ever seen. Peering down into two enormous square black holes makes you conceive what was actually wiped out. And the veils of water cascading down the four black walls and falling into the void convey no other feeling but that of absence and loss.

The perception of human loss is furthermore increased by three long rows of names that run all around the bronze parapet of the pools. These are the names of the 3000 deceased. Even if you don’t know any of the victims, the multitude of engraved names makes you pause at the magnitude of the 9/11 tragedy. As they are inscribed on the edge of the pools, one has to confront them before looking into the vast pit. You just cannot ignore them. Their presence is both imposing and protective – the parapet of names is like a shield that prevents you from falling into the abyss.

 

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As I contemplate a white rose placed on the names of the victims, a couple of tourists next to me bends down and leaves their fast food cup on the floor. A security guard approaches and asks them to take away their trash. But there’s no garbage can here, they cry. The guard stays calm: this is a National Memorial! I turn over and add: this is also a cemetery, even if there are no human remains left here. Would you like people to leave their waste on your tomb? Before any of them can say a word, I walk away from Ground Zero.

 

That’s when the neighboring clamor pushes back into my conscience, and when I realize that we are surrounded by jammed streets, crowded skyscrapers, and ongoing construction works. But the sound of the continuous stream of the waterfalls masks all the city noise. Just like the terrorist attacks, it surpasses the everyday urban turmoil.

 

While the past cannot be changed, it should not be forgotten. If you ask my opinion, I would say that no other monument could have conveyed the idea of both loss and remembrance better than the 9/11 Memorial Pools in New York City. If the subject weren’t so cruel, one would say that the idea of the Memorial pools are simply “marvelous”. Definitely one of the strongest memorials.

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Remembering the Past at the 9/11 Memorial Pool, NYC © Travelwithmk.com
Remembering the Past at the 9/11 Memorial Pool, NYC © Travelwithmk.com

 

Follow Mei:

Traveler - Storyteller

30-something Archaeologist, born and raised in Luxembourg. She loves eating stinky cheese and raw food, listening to Kerstin's stories while driving on long road trips, and capturing their journeys with her iPhone, and then delete half of the photos. She speaks 7 languages, and wishes she had time to pick up Ancient Greek. She's afraid of heights, but adores panoramic views. Her favorite places are those she chose to live in: Paris, Greece, San Francisco.

15 Responses

  1. Gabriela
    | Reply

    Last time I was in NY it was before the 9/11 and I was so young I barely can remember anything, but I am planning to go next year again.

  2. Dorene
    | Reply

    I haven’t been to NYC since the monument and the pools were finished. I loved the slide show approach and your pictures are wonderful. Thanks for taking me on this journey with you.

  3. Peter Korchnak
    | Reply

    Last time I was in NYC, the whole area was just a giant hole in the ground and construction site. It came together nicely for more than an appropriate memorial.

  4. Darlene | PS+W
    | Reply

    When it happened, I was in school and it was all that our teachers talked about. The repercussions of this day certainly changed a lot in the history of mankind. I would like to see this memorial as well.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      When we returned to Luxembourg, we also talked about it for many months at school. It was somehow surreal, because back then NY seemed so far away, and yet what happened on the other side of the Atlantic moved us very much.

  5. Rhonda Albom
    | Reply

    We didn’t even own a TV at the time of 9/11 as we didn’t want our kids growing up with electronics. It’s what caused us to get one, as we felt it was very important to never be as unconnected from the news again.

  6. SherianneKay
    | Reply

    I haven’t been to New York since they were complete. I need to make a point of visiting this

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      And if you have time, make sure to visit the 9/11 museum too, which is actually located below the memorial.

  7. Siddhartha Joshi
    | Reply

    I was in NYC a few years back and saw the memorial under construction. It was an incident that we must never forget, and this is a perfect memorial for 9/11 in so many different ways.

  8. mostlyamelie
    | Reply

    I agree the 9/11 memorial is very moving and impressive. Similar to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, in some ways. Both are places for introspection and remembrance for sure.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      We haven’t been to Berlin yet, but we will certainly visit the Holocaust Memorial when we go there. I’m sure it’s as impressive as the 9/11 memorial!

  9. Julie Cohn
    | Reply

    We went to the 9/11 museum and pools last summer–it was such a beautiful remembrance of everything New York endured. Your photos are lovely!

  10. tanjtrubiano
    | Reply

    Never forget….

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