Where were you on September 11th, 2001 around 9 am?
I was in high school at home room in the cafeteria when one of the teachers walked through the door and said, “We’re under attack.”
The remainder of the day was spent watching the news in various classrooms, taking in the magnitude of 9/11. It felt devastating to think our country was susceptible to such an attack. Even with more information, it made less and less sense.
For those of us who watched from afar and had no personal ties, it was easy to feel detached. We grieved with our country, yet the impact wasn’t the same as those who lived it or lost loved ones. For me, that all changed when I visited ground zero.
This past fall, my husband and I had an opportunity to visit NYC. We had always wanted to go and worked it out so we didn’t have to bring the kiddos. We visited all the tourist-y things such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, The Met, Penn Station, etc. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was high on our list and didn’t come until the end of our trip.
It was surreal standing by the fountains where the twin towers once stood. As I read through the names, there was one that caught my eye. It was the name of a lady and beside were the words “and her unborn baby”. My heart shattered. The thought didn’t even occur to me that among the lives lost were those unborn babies. Being a mom changes your outlook and this completely broke my heart.
Then I saw the one display that would forever change my view of 9/11.
By the escalator, there was a changing projector that displayed actual “missing people” signs that family members and loved ones had posted. I stood for a moment to observe the shifting of posters and then I saw it. The poster was on a standard 8.5 x 11 inches of paper with crayon used and an accompanying picture. It said “Please help us find our mom” and the handwriting was that of a child. Immediately my eyes welled up with tears as the gravity of the message and context hit me. The picture had three young children (much like the age of my own) and a picture of them beside their mom. They had made this poster in an effort to locate their mom- likely someone who lost her life in the attack. This was a devastating reality.
The sorrow I felt on September 11th came rushing back, but ten fold. These lost lives had names and identities. They had families who were desperately searching for them. They had kids who would never see them again. This was a devastating reality.
Plan a visit
I can’t emphasize enough that every American citizen needs to visit this museum. You will feel sad and hopeful, angry and helpless. You will have a greater appreciation for the first responders who risked their lives and for every heroic person that rose to the occasion. There will be mourning for our country filled with pride by our response. It is impossible to visit this museum and leave unchanged.