Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Visit to the World Trade Center

While in New York City last week, I took some time to myself and headed down to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center.  Despite multiple trips to New York, I had never been there before, and with time on my hands I had no excuse.  Likewise, I had the benefit of access to a "family pass" which enabled me pass by many of the lines.  A friend of mine lost her brother in the South Tower - his office was above the crash site and he was trapped and ultimately was killed.  She was happy to set me up if I'd pay my respects and "say 'hi' to John for her."  I was happy to do so.

It was a grey, cold day, and seemed appropriate for attending the memorial.  The crowd was large, but the family pass that I had moved me along and my wait was very small.  Upon entering the memorial, I was struck at how small it felt.  It was configured into two tower "footprints," and while they were smaller footprints than the original towers' footprint configurations, it still felt small.

It felt small, that is, until I started reading the names.  All of the names:

Thousands of them.  I was specifically looking for my friend's brother, and while there are tools to help one identify an exact location of a victim's name on the memorial, I didn't want to use that and wanted to find him on my own.

And I found as I was going through that process and concentrating on my task that I was becoming desensitized to the place, names, and what it all meant.

 And then I saw my first listing of a pregnant woman, "MARY DOE, AND HER UNBORN CHILD."  And for whatever reason, that completely humanized the whole event to me, and brought me to a shocking realization of the massive loss of life, and the ripple effects it must have had for so many families across the country, if not the world.

And with that I broke down.

I counted six other pregnant women that were killed on that day.  And ultimately I did find John, and paid my respects.  As I was turning away from doing so, I spied a middle eastern couple to the left of me.  She was wearing a Hijab, and was backing herself up to the memorial so that a picture could be taken of her with the memorial in the background.  And once she got into position, she flashed a massive smile.  A smile that appeared, to me, to be inappropriate.  A smile that appeared to resemble one that one flashed when one's favorite baseball team hit a home run.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I could have been completely misinterpreting the entire event.  It could have been completely benign.  But at that moment, and with the emotional state in which I was in, it took a lot of strength not to grab that iPhone they were using and smash it in the ground.  I was beyond angry.  I seethed.  

And at that point I told myself that I needed to leave.  Right now.  

And on my way out, I gazed up at the sky to the massive Freedom Tower, rising above all of that loss and construction.

That's where I took MY photo:

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