Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Trip Home: Remembering 9-11-2001

I recently took a trip back to where I grew up, in northern New Jersey, and to the city that I relate to as "mine," New York City. I want to say that I do not consider myself a "New Yorker," since I technically lived across the river. Also, I have now lived away from there longer than I lived there, but it still has a special place and connection in my heart and mind.

It had been seven years since I was up there and for several reasons, it was time for me to go back. I'll get to that in another post soon, but today, on the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93, I will start with my visit to the 9-11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.

My friend made plans for her family and I to go to the memorial on Labor Day. We drove into the city from New Jersey and my friend's daughter said something about how beautiful the Manhattan skyline is (she has lived there all of her 15 years of life). I had to agree. But it still seems strange to me that the Twin Towers are no longer in the skyline.

I don't know how many times I visited the World Trade Center, which actually included several other buildings besides the two that came down. I have several memories of taking friends and out-of-town family members to the top of the WTC to see the spectacular views. The elevator ride made your stomach drop. You could see a long way from up there (although my favorite panoramic view is still the one from the top of the Empire State Building because you can see further north in Manhattan from there).

On the day we went to the memorial, I didn't really recognize the area and there is a lot of construction going on around there, rebuilding some of the surrounding buildings, including the new Freedom Tower. Once we went through the tight security to enter the memorial area, I was immediately drawn to the first fountain, which was the footprint of the South Tower. I walked all around it and looked at some of the names engraved in the granite ledge. I looked down into the infinity fountains from every angle and took some pictures. It felt sobering to me, as I think it should to everyone who visits.

We walked to the North Fountain and walked around it as well. We had gone just a little way around when I found the name of my former neighbor on my street who had died that day. Along another side, I found the name of the younger brother of one of our high school classmates who also lost his life that day.

At some point during our time at the memorial and maybe while driving to and from Manhattan, we talked about our memories of 9-11-01. Where we were when we heard the news. What we did the rest of the day. How we felt. Our three kids (my friend has two teenagers) were very young:  ages 4 and 6 (her son and Daniel are the same age). They don't really remember life before 9-11. To my nieces and other children for generations to come, the attacks will be something they read about in their history book (or online).

The museum is not completed/open yet, but we got to see a couple of things in the visitor center. One thing that was displayed was the fire helmet pictured below. I do not want our generation or future generations to forget the sacrifices and heroism of the responders who were doing their job that day. I do not want us to forget the innocent victims who went to work that day and didn't come home. I do not want us to forget about the families and friends who are continuing to live their lives, but have to do it without their loved one.

I didn't get a full shot of this because the line was moving to get into the memorial.

The corner views give you the best idea of how big the fountains are.

The white, slanted building is the museum that has not opened yet.

Freedom Tower

Tommy Bowden lived on my street.
One of the things I remember from 2001 is that I was doing the Beth Moore Bible Study, Breaking Free, with a group of women from church and on the night of September 11, I read a focal passage from that study that taught me that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, to comfort those who mourn, to rebuild the ruins, for His glory.

Please take time to read Isaiah 61:1-4 below (and the whole chapter sometime on your own) and pray for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones on that day in 2001. Pray for all of us to know Jesus in the ways that He came for us and to know that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday (on 9-11-01), today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

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