Bright and early tomorrow, New Yorkers will have a new destination to fill their idle time.
Monday September 12th, 2011 marks the opening of the WTC/September 11th Memorial that takes up roughly half the 16 hallowed acres that formerly – 10 short years (okay… long years if you’ve been doing a lot of air travel) ago – housed the previous incarnation of the World Trade Center for 10 hours of that fateful Tuesday before being turned into a pile of smoking wreckage.
Up until now, the public at large hasn’t had any access to the WTC site – unable to stand on the ground where 2,500+ normal, everyday people were killed in an orgy of violence and death set in motion by hateful, bearded men half a world away in a country that for the most part was ignored by everyone except the Russians in the 1980s.
Monday morning, New Yorkers have the opportunity to obtain some closure as they can physically travel to the footprints of the North and South towers – looking deep into the pits where they once stood – that are now the world’s largest man-made waterfalls.
But more than just a water feature, the square tower imprints are bordered by bronze rails inscribed with the names of every soul lost to 9/11: both those perishing in the towers, and those killed at the Pentagon and in that barren field outside Shanksville, PA… which, like the Vietnam Wall in D.C., gives a place to mourn those souls – a great number of which simply vanished into thin air as their bodies were torn, crushed, and incinerated.
These bronze rails give those families who never received any remains of their loved ones a place to visit… something tangible where nothingness and abstract concepts have shadowed their daily lives for a decade.
Yet… the cynic deep inside me (maybe not that deep) wonders how long it will be until some asshat kid spray-paints a graffiti tag onto some part of the memorial? I fear it’s only a matter of time… whether it be on the bronze name rails, or on the side of the waterfalls, or on a tree – maybe the ‘Survivor Tree’ that was the last living thing pulled from the WTC wreckage?
Perhaps 9/11 is a tragedy that will transcend the disrespect that the 4chan generation has honed – the types of kids who video themselves urinating on other monuments to fallen heroes.
But I digress…
The memorial plaza will also host a museum, but that won’t be open to the public for another year – but will be very much worth the wait: all manners of debris and relics retrieved from ‘The Pile’ will be on display for people to see and emotionally connect with, including smashed firetrucks, ambulances, police cars, twisted ‘impact steel’ (portions of the WTC tower’s iron outer shell that the two hijacked planes collided with), recovered uniforms of fallen first responders.
However, the two defining features of the museum will be both iconic and immense: two of the recovered steel tridents that were an architectural flourish in the design of the WTC towers, and the naked retaining wall that held back the Hudson river from flooding the Trade Center’s lower levels and adjoining subway station – still covered in the nubs of structural supports that held the towers to the bedrock.
I’m not going to go on about the various politics of 9/11 as I’ve done that previously in this blog on another anniversary of the murders, and that topic has also been covered to death by those much more learned that myself – so what could I possibly add now?
9/11 is a defining moment that will stain and reverberate through history – and personal human conscience for the 90 years or so until the last survivors and victim’s family members have gone on to whatever is after this life – like Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and the Challenger explosion… all of these events are something that you can look back and say with certainty where you were when you heard the news.
We, as a civilized and caring society, feel the pain of those affected by 9/11… even when the vast majority of us had nothing directly invested in the tragedy – having not lost a son, daughter, mother, father, aunt, uncle, or grandparent.
To not feel the collective grief is something one should be alarmed by… and something to admit with a great deal of shame.
But that is the way of the world: hatred consumes and burns inside many people… even in ways that aren’t quite so obvious, or not directly related to terrorism.
The myriad of conspiracy theories that surround 9/11 is a glaring example of that sort of hatred.
Groups of people who have – for the lack of a better term – hijacked the events and memories of 9/11 to suit their own biases and hatreds toward parties and persons of all political stripes… and generating fantastical, improbable, highly insane plots as to why all those people were really murdered.
By doing this… by creating these conspiracies… these people deny the simple truths of 9/11 and do a great disservice to the victims who gave their lives for nothing more than being in the wrong place and the wrong time.
Disrespect for those murdered is something I can’t tolerate, and isn’t something you should abide either.
So, in that spirit, I present here a video that comes completely without any message or leaning other than what is communicated visually – you can even turn off the audio to mute the music I chose.
You, yourself can be the judge of what happened 10 years ago today since you were blessed with two eyes and a brain capable of making independent conclusions.
Of course… many of you won’t do that, and will continue to think what someone else has told you to think – and I will feel a great swell of pity for you.