I remember this day. Sixteen years have passed, and it’s still salient. The calculated and darting whispers exchanged between the teachers in our first grade class room. Just days earlier our largest priority was practicing penmanship. I sat in our hard brown desks while a sense of low-grade panic and dread ensued and emanated from those who understood that we had just been attacked on our own soil. I watched our television was turned on and tuned in as we watched curdled black smoke leak from one of the towers. This was part of the reason why visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum was so full of impact for me.
I don’t remember leaving school – but I knew we did so early. Last but not least, I remember watching a news broadcast several days later as President Bush declared war. I was walking around our glass coffee table and admiring our beta fish while my parents very soberly watched the TV set. From what I remember my father sitting in the recliner (which didn’t happen much). I remember that when war was declared that I exclaimed joyfully. Because I knew we had been hurt as a nation.
But I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, and my father was quick to respond, that this was not something to be happy about. That a lot more people were going to get hurt. I have never forgotten and when we visited New York City for our honeymoon earlier this year we were able to take a journey through the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
September 11 Memorial Fountains
Before we ventured inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum we visited the Memorial Fountains. They were gorgeous and their depth was striking. So many people were lost that day and due to this their nearly 3,000 names are engraved on the eaves. On their birthdays white roses are placed to pay homage to their special day.
Once we got inside there were some beginning portions of the exhibit right after walking into the doors. Once you descended downstairs the haunting artifacts from the day were displayed.
Structural Building Artifacts
This is a section of the steel facade from the North Tower from where hijacked flight 11 made impact with the building, specifically from floors 96-99.
The next thing we were able to see were the box column remnants. These were hollow steel columns who provided support for the structures. After the attack they were cut back to the level elevation you are able to see here.
In the North Tower there was a radio and television antenna. Most broadcasts were not able to be completed after the hijacked Flight 11 hit the tower. They simply failed. There were six broadcast engineers trapped at the top of the tower. Initially they believed the back up generators were working but eventually their offices began to fill with smoke and become hot. Then at 10:28 AM the tower collapsed and the broadcasts permanently stopped. Even though a broadcast engineer was able to contact a colleague who relayed the message that there were people at the top that the firefighters shouldn’t forget, none of them survived.
From the Wreckage
This is a Ladder 3 Company Truck of the New York City Fire Department that responded to the attack at the World Trade Center’s.
Captain Patrick John Brown was highly decorated and this fire truck was from his company. This helmet below was the one he wore during September 11, 2001 as he helped coordinate the evacuation of 25,000 people from the World Trade Center’s.
This column served as a way to document some of those who were lost on this day. Some of the larger markings you may notice are FDNY 343, NYPD 23 and E214 L111. FDNY 343 represents the three hundred and forty-three active-duty firefighters that lost their lives in the line of duty that day. NYPD 23 stands for the twenty-three police officers who passed away while responding to the World Trade Center’s attacks on 9/11. Engine Company 214 responded as a company during the morning of 9/11 and their firehouse was shared with Ladder Company 11. Both companies spent months after the fact searching for victims and any missing co-workers, this is why E214 L111 resides on the beam.
I could not take photos after this point in the exhibit hall. This large room held artifacts that could not be exposed to flash or would be degraded. The missing person posters and memorials that adorned the streets for so long afterwards were striking and many in number. Another part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum discussed the beginnings of September 11. Finally the recovery efforts from days to years afterwards were also showcased.
Here is one of the remaining panes of glass that survived the impact that 40,000 other windows didn’t. This windowpane was from the 82nd-floor.
This section of stairs from Vesey Street is known as the “Survivors’ Stairs.” They were connected to the northern side of the World Trade Center’s that hundreds were able to escape down after conquering crossing the Plaza.
Once you made it to the bottom floor of the 9/11 Memorial Museum you were able to see the art installation known as Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning. All of the tile-like pieces you see are actual 2,983 individual water color drawings. They are supposed to represent the common experience of everyone who witnessed that morning. They are all also different to acknowledge the individual people who passed away and the different perceptions people had. The letters that make up the quote from Virgil, a Roman poet, were from pieces of the World Trade Center’s that were salvaged. Both the quote and what it is made from was supposed to pay homage to the promise detailed but also to share how something so tragic can be transformed.
There was also an interactive exhibit where you could express your condolences. They would appear closest to the area on the map where you were from.
I enjoyed visiting the exhibit so much because it was audio based. For someone who has always been sensitive to sounds this was important. I can literally identify what movie is playing in the adjoining room by the opening credits. Even though some of the audio was heart breaking to hear, it is important to acknowledge. I was able to hear several phone calls from people in one on of the towers. Records of the emergency correspondence that followed the initial attack was something else I listened too. There were also over fifty messages on an answering machine to a local Fire Chief that will forever remain unanswered.
After we ascended the escalator we were able to visit the 10 House across from the World Trade Center’s. They had the most beautiful bronze out front. This is to commemorate the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11 and to those who carry on.
I will always remember the 9/11 Memorial Musuem. In all honesty you could probably spend a full day there easily. I would highly recommend spending your time there if you are ever in New York City.
Have you ever had the honor of visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum?
Thanks for reading!