In memory of 9/11, we are republishing this article, to honor those who lost their lives during that fateful day.
Twelve years ago, one fine fall day in New York, I went off from work so I can pick up my folks from JFK airport. They were flying in from Chicago. While having breakfast, as I talked to my mom on the phone to confirm the time of their arrival, news broke out on television about a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center’s two towers. As I continued to watch with horror, I learned that it was a terror attack and that our entire country’s air space will be closed to all aircraft indefinitely. With my parents unable to fly, they decided to take the twenty-hour Greyhound bus ride from the Midwest to the Northeast. To make the long story short, they made it to New York’s Port Authority two days later. This is just one story out of thousands about that fateful morning on September 11th. More are about the painful loss of more than two thousand loved ones coupled with the heroism of New York’s Finest and Bravest.
Almost twelve years later, the same relatives from Chicago came for the weekend to drop off one of their kids for a medical internship. With limited time to sightsee, my aunt only wanted to do one thing. And that is to pay respects at the 9/11 Memorial. Free passes to view the memorial are given for a specific time and date and can be reserved online up to six months in advance. For those without reservations like us, there is a limited number of passes available for the day. As it was a rainy July afternoon, the line was short for same day passes and we were able to get them. After going through what seemed like airport security, we finally made our way into the site. Although not my first time (I visited a month after it first opened on September 12th, 2011), a deluge of emotions overcame me as soon as I saw the two reflecting pools with the names of the deceased forever engraved along the black granite rims. I walked around the two pools and saw that a few names had white roses next to them. I learned later its significance…that it commemorates each of the victims’ birthdays on that particular day.
After saying a heartfelt prayer, I reflected on this tribute of remembrance to honor the victims, not only of the 9/11 attacks, but also the bombing in 1993. It was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011 with the victims’ families in attendance. The two reflecting pools called North and South Pools were built on the footprints of the original Twin Towers. It was designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker after winning an international competition to design a fitting tribute to the victims.
As I sat on one of the benches, I immersed myself in the serene surroundings and listened to the rippling water as it fell into a larger pool until one can not see it anymore. An aptly thoughtful design for all those lost during the attacks. Although there was a somber mood from every visitor, there was also a palpable hopeful atmosphere brought upon by the almost finished One World Trade Center, popularly known as Freedom Tower. Currently the tallest building in Manhattan, it will contain office and retail spaces as well as a two-level observation deck once completed. To me, as the tower soars upward the gray-blue sky, it represents resilience and hope to what were previously destroyed by ignorance and hate. New York and the rest of the world will never ever forget.
Written by Faith Azul-Evia. Faith is an avid flashpacker (a slightly older version of a backpacker with a bigger budget but still wants to avoid a packaged version of a destination) and believes that her travels start as soon as she leaves her NY apartment building. She is in constant search of new places to explore, eat, drink, sleep, spa, run, hike and yoga. She has been to 38 countries in 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica someday. Follow her @faithflashpacks on Instagram.