When I was in New York City for BlogHer 15, I took a free afternoon to explore, determined to visit the 9/11 Memorial.
The experience was one that caused mixed emotions. Walking into the memorial grounds, the throngs of people chattered about their expectations. I was in my head, wondering how a country that treats me as a second class citizen can still elicit feelings of awe and deep respect.
The first thing one notices is the silence. Even though the area is crowded, by tacit agreement, speech is reduced to whispers, children are kept from running and playing, and men and women who stream silent tears are left undisturbed to mourn as needed.
The 9/11 Memorial is a testament. It shows the strength of the United States. It’s a reminder that as a country, we CAN forget about race, and focus on a goal of rebuilding. It’s a reminder that we can be UNITED. It’s a reminder that even as free she is, my country still has weakness.
For my immigrant learners, in 2006 the Naturalization exam was updated to include this question about current events:
Question 86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
▪ Terrorists attacked the United States.
From the 9/11 Memorial website:
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.