Saturday, August 2, 2014

Questions about the 9/11 Memorial

I debated on going to the 9/11 Memorial while in New York. Would it be too emotional, would it break up the happy-vacation mood? Would it be interesting to the kids?  Landing at Battery Park off the Staten Island Ferry, I decided that none of these were really good excuses. In fact, I felt like it would be some level of disrespect to ignore the Memorial, only blocks away.
As I approached the Memorial, even as I stepped onto the curb of the block, this emotional wave hit me - a surprising heaviness. I actually could not speak and respond to my child asking me some question I could barely hear. I slowed down, took a deep breath to try to will my tears back, and shook my head, confused about this overwhelming feeling.  I walked up to the Memorial with my children and stood at the bordering wall, engraved with the names of the people who died there. I touched the face of the stone, and pulled my hand back, shocked that it was cold. I wondered if it was always cold or was it because it was partly shaded there. But it was eerie.
"It's so loud," one of my children commented. And it was true. The roar of the water, plunging from the street level to 30' below the surface and then further into a large abyss that you can't see the bottom. It was very loud. It demanded that you paid attention, watched the water, read the names and remembered all those people who lost their lives on that sunny morning.
As we observed the Memorial, visiting the waterfalls at the former locations of both the towers, my children had a whole list of questions. I realized that two of my children were not even born on that fateful morning; however, one was born on the day we went to war as the aftermath. That for all of my children, the attack on 9/11 was a Social Studies lesson that they were familiar with, but didn't really have in their active memory. They asked their questions, I did my best to answer. 
What happened? 
How many planes?
How did they fall?
What happened to the people?
How did they get away?
Where were the buildings? Right here?
How tall were they?
Who are all these names? 
For this last question, I had no answer. 
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