The day was warm, brilliant, and blue during our visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. My daughter, age ten, wasn’t alive yet when the planes flew into the towers kicking off a chain of terrible events we’re still dealing with today and will continue to deal with for the foreseeable future. She knows what happened, but I think it’s hard to fully grasp the enormity of how life changed for Americans after that event if you didn’t live through it.

I’d been to the site of the former World Trade Towers back in 2002, when there were only two massive gaping holes in the ground, surrounded by dirt and cordoned off by huge fences. I remember pausing by a huge sign by the site which listed all the names of those who’d died and shaking my head before continuing on down to the Battery for a view of the Statue of Liberty.

I’d been warned by my New York pals that people had mixed opinions about the memorial. My friends love it, personally, but they said many people found it unappealing. I found it interesting that there were are apparently mixed feelings about the memorial site of two buildings which also provoked mixed feelings in New Yorkers. The Trade Towers had been considered by many to be a blemish on the skyline for years until they were gone and then they were missed terribly. I overheard a New Yorker at the memorial telling their tourist friend that they can’t look at old pictures of the skyline with the Twin Towers in it without crying. He said, “I wish I’d admired them more when they were still here.”

The fountains proved to be hard to photograph, especially with just an iPhone. I’m sure a professional photographer could have done a better job, but these were the best I could achieve. The photos don’t do the fountains justice, though. The water rushing down the sides sparkles like diamonds in the sun and the sight of the water rushing into the darkness, an endless pit as far as the eye can see, like millions of tears falling into the never-ending sadness of grief, is poignant. And yet in photos it looks like water rushing into a square black hole. In person, it feels like so much more.

Above is my attempt to capture the diamond sparkle of the water cascading down the sides.

Around the edges of each fountain are the names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001. They are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. Many names held roses and I wondered if loved ones left them daily or just on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.

The memorials were beautiful and thought provoking. I encourage all visitors to New York City to stop by and view them.


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