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9/11 Memorial

Perhaps no other event in our lifetime has so shattered our sense of security as the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001. I remember watching TV in disbelief as the towers fell and then rushing to St. Andrew's School to hug both our children to be sure they were safe. And I remember having dinner with my brother at Windows on the World atop the WTC in 1976, at that time, the tallest building in the world. That breathtaking height was achieved by constructing buildings with exterior walls made of steel tridents to allow movement in high winds, but the buildings had no central core. Designers had considered the possibility of a small plane crashing into the buildings, but not the jet aircraft filled with the 20,000 gallons of jet fuel that exploded into the buildings on the clear morning of 9/11/01. The design of the buildings proved to be the source of their destruction.

Twin Towers, 9/10/01

Twin Towers, 9/11/01


We spent several hours at the 9/11 site in lower Manhattan and cannot remember being so moved since touring the D-Day battlefields and cemeteries at Omaha and Utah Beaches. The focal points of the Memorial are two pools, each nearly an acre in size, that sit in the footprints of the former North and South Towers. The pools contain the largest manmade waterfalls in North America, each descending 30 feet into a square basin. From there, the water in each pool drops another 20 feet and disappears into a smaller, central void. According to the architect, Michael Arad, the pools represent “absence made visible.” Although water flows into the voids, they can never be filled. The names of the 2983 people killed on 9/11 and the WTC bombings in 1993 are inscribed around the top of each pool.


9/11 Memorial Pools (photo by Jin S. Lee)


After visiting the pools, one may enter the adjacent 9/11 Museum and descend seven stories along the exposed wall of the original parking garage of the North Tower to Ground Zero, where the bases of the footings and columns of the Twin Towers can be seen. These supporting columns remained set in granite bedrock and still standing after the buildings fell, and they were sheared off to ground level to show the footprint of the two towers after the debris was cleared. No photos were allowed in most of this area, and the crowds were subdued. Standing in the quiet, low light far below the city above, we felt an intense connection with those who perished and those whose remains still lie, unknown but never forgotten, behind the memorial wall.

Parking Garage Wall, North Tower

Footings of the Original Twin Towers, Sheared to Bedrock

Wall of Memory Protecting the Unknown Remains Beneath the Towers

9/11 Memorial Occulus

(A dove being freed from the hands of a child, representing the soaring spirits of those who perished, the beginnings of reconstruction, and a tribute to peace)



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crz.butler
May 27, 2022

The 9/11 Memorial, the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial and the Holocaust Museum in D.C. are unbelievably moving.

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