Friday, April 27, 2012

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial

Despite the 9/11 Memorial having been open for more than six months -- and despite working so close that I could have visited during my lunch break -- I had never been until just last week. I figured that all of our upcoming visitors would want to see it. My Mom and Dad just happened to be the first since it was unveiled.

The memorial is free, but you do have to reserve tickets online for a given day and time. Ours were for 6:30 p.m. last Friday. Security was fast and surprisingly tight. Practically the only difference between it and an airport is that here, I could leave on my shoes.

The memorial is only partially completed; the museum isn't yet open and the expected 400 oak trees are far from fully grown. There are basically three things to see right now, and they are impressive: The Memorial North Pool, the Memorial South Pool and the Survivor Tree.

The pools feature infinity waterfalls -- it's impossible to see the very bottom -- surrounded by the names of each victim of the attacks, not just at the World Trade Center, but at the Pentagon and the other flights. Each name is carved into bronze and lit from below, creating what I'm sure must be a spectacular display when night falls.

The Survivor Tree is a pear tree that was planted at the World Trade Center plaza in the '70s that survived the attacks, albeit as an 8-foot stump. The tree was transferred to a city park, brought back to life and returned to the site.

Looking at the memorial now, it's difficult to believe that the very same area was a hub of activity just more than a decade ago. I'm eager to return to the 9/11 Memorial both at night and as more becomes open to the public.

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