On the evening of May 17th I had the honor of touring the 9/11 Memorial Museum before it opened to the public the following week. I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted to attend. The wounds of that fateful day thirteen years ago will never heal. It’s hard enough dealing with the memories when confronted by them on television. It’s quite another thing to stand at Ground Zero on the spot where so much of the horror occurred and even more difficult to enter the memorial building and confront the faces of all who were lost that day.
However, another part of me needed to be there. After all, this is more than just a museum; it’s a memorial to both the victims of the most horrific terrorist attack ever to occur on our homeland and to the brave police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty that day. In the end I went out of a need to pay my respects.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is built on hallowed ground within steps of the two reflecting pools that mark the footprints of the two original World Trade Center towers. The walls that surround each reflecting pool are inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives that day. The impact is powerful, sobering, and gut wrenching.
From the moment I entered the building I was struck by the solemnity and reverence of the place. Much care has been taken to present the exhibits in a way that demonstrates you’ve entered a space that is a memorial. The atmosphere is subdued and respectful but at the same time even more powerful, more sobering, and more gut wrenching than the reflecting pools.
As difficult as it was to stand inches from the portraits of those who lost their lives, and the artifacts that survived the attack and view the various tributes created in response to that day, in the end I was glad I had the chance to pay my respects.