Everyone Needs to See the National September 11 Memorial and Museum [PHOTOS]
Every American needs to see this place, it's beautiful.
A few years ago, my husband and I took a trip to New York City. I lived there five years ago and hubby visited constantly growing up, and we try to go back each year. It's fun sharing our stories and favorite hangout spots, while also creating new ones.
Of course, we dedicated a day to the September 11 Memorial and Museum which was an unforgettable experience.
We didn't know what to expect getting off the subway, but when we came upon the reflection pools, the mood changed entirely. The city is eerily quiet around Ground Zero, as if setting the stage for the experience you are about to encounter. An experience you will never forget.
We walked around the pools, taking in all of the names listed and coming upon white roses every so often. Roses that have been placed in remembrance of those lost 17 years ago. At each rose, I found myself pausing and thinking about placing a rose there for one of my loved ones.
I can't imagine the devastation.
I stopped by one of the pools, standing close to its edge. I looked straight up into the sky, trying my best to envision the massive skyscrapers that once stood there. I never got to see those buildings in person and had no idea what they were as an eighth-grader on the west coast.
I also tried to envision what that day was like 17 years ago. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the faint sounds of sirens. Not even five minutes in and I was already trying to fight back tears.
We purchased our tickets and went inside.
Immediately you start descending into the ground. That's the thing, the entire museum is underground. You wander deep into the roots of the World Trade Center.
This is the first thing you see.
That wall is actually a dam that holds back the Hudson River. Imagine for a second if that wall had been compromised... The entire southern tip of Manhattan would have flooded. What happened that day was beyond tragic, but it could have been so much worse.
At this point, you realize that you are standing where the supports for the World Trade Center Towers once stood.
You walk through thousands of exhibits. You see firetrucks covered in ash and debris, pieces of the buildings that have been marked with a plaque stating which floor and which tower the piece is from, there is even one single window pane that remained completely unbroken despite the collapsing towers.
On the back wall of this first tower are the uniforms worn by the Navy Seals team who found and killed Osama bin Laden.
You travel further into the earth.
As you walk down the stairs, you walk next to the very stairs that hundreds of people ran down, fleeing for their lives. As you descend you see this massive mosaic.
The blue tiles were made by children. Each child was asked to paint their tile with the color of the sky they remember seeing on September 11. The dark ones broke my heart, because I felt like that child only saw darkness during and after that day.
As you continue to weave between the two towers, you walk into to separate rooms filled with every picture of every person who lost their life on that day.
Behind you sits the dedication plaque of the Twin Towers on April 4, 1975.
Then you round the corner and come into a complete, real-life timeline of everything that happened the morning of September 11.
You're walking through the city as it wakes up, the planes being loaded with passengers, you even see footage of the terrorists going through security. Try hard not to curse out loud with that one. Never have I been filled with such rage in my life.
You hear the 9-1-1 calls. You hear the voicemails left for loved ones by those in the buildings. You see parts of the planes from the point of impact. You see large shards of glass that fell from the sky.
You. See. Everything.
You feel everything. As someone who wasn't in New York City on 9/11, I felt as though I was right there in the middle of that morning. And then you see the wall of televisions displaying the worldwide coverage of the attacks. Above it is President George W. Bush's message to the nation and the world.
You then walk through the memorials that were set up for those who passed. The lasting image for me was the sky view of the towers crashing to the ground. Lower Manhattan is completely engulfed in smoke, dust, and debris.
You need an entire day to walk through this memorial.
Anything and everything you could want to experience or feel is there. You think how could any of this be preserved, but there it is before you. You are in the moment.
It's absolutely unbelievable.
I took very few pictures because, honestly, there is just too much to behold. And taking any pictures of hubby and me together to document our trip there seemed utterly disrespectful. We remained quiet for the better part of the afternoon. One look was all it took for us to understand what we had just experienced.
We walked in silence back to our hotel.
The September 11 Memorial and Museum is something every single American needs to see. You need to feel what happened that day. You'll be filled with so many emotions... sadness, grief, anger, rage, pride, hope, love for one another and so on.
I will say that there is a video board that you can write messages on. Those messages are then displayed on a wall which has a giant map of the world. The message stands for a brief moment, then becomes a part of the world.
I wrote, "A moment in our life, forever in our hearts. Never forget."