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NYC: 9/11 Memorial… Never Forget

By on July 21, 2014 in New York Travel with 14 Comments

Twin Tours NYC“After the 9/11 apocalypse happened in New York City, people, particularly New Yorkers, who breathed in the ash, or saw the results of that, have a tendency to keep seeing echoes and having flashbacks to it.” – Stephen King

Where were you on September 11th? What did you feel when you saw the Twin Towers burst into flames? Shock? Hurt? Anger? Vulnerability? Terror? Sadness? These emotions and more sat heavy in my stomach, heart, and soul.

I will never forget that horrific day. I was in San Diego at my dad’s. I had been staying with him for a few months while I was looking for a job in LA. Early morning, he knocked on my bedroom door, “Gina, come quick. You have to see this.” As I am not a morning person, I was a little annoyed. I had no idea my world would be forever changed.

My annoyance and foggy, morning brain quickly faded as I stared at the television in disbelief. I tried to wrap my head around what just happened. ‘Why? No, this can’t be true. What? Are my friends in New York alive? How can this happen… especially in New York? Are we safe? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!’

September 11 World Trade Center

I went to work in a daze. My mind kept replaying the horrific images of the plane, the towers, the flames. When I arrived, everyone was glued to the TV. No one was in the mood to work, but no one wanted to leave either. I tried to reach my friends in New York. I wondered about the friends I had lost touch with who lived there. I couldn’t reach anyone for quite some time, but I kept calling.

Twin Towers Just Before the September 11 Attacks

Twin Towers on Flames on September 11

My phone started to blow up. My friends wanted to know if I was safe. They called to confirm I wasn’t on one of those planes as I had flown from Boston to California the day before. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me, but I realized how lucky I was. I had explored flights on both days into both cities. I was very happy I chose a flight into San Diego on the 10th instead of into LA on 9/11.

The Day My Lady CriedThe day was surreal. How could this happen to us? Why did so many innocent people have to die? How could we be attacked like this in the United States? I hate terrorists; they are evil. The Pentagon was attacked? What next? Make it go away…

I remember how sad I felt. I remember how angry I was. I remember feeling vulnerable and uncertain. I couldn’t comprehend how something so tragic could happen to a city I loved and the people who lived there. I felt bad for the folks who were left behind, and I was thankful everyone I knew was still alive. I wondered if life would ever go back to normal. How could so much change in 24 hours? This day would forever haunt me…

I remember days after the attack how people came together, and strangers helped each other. I remember feeling a sense of pride in our country. I was in awe by how giving everyone became, and I wanted this altruism to last forever.

Fast forward to a little more than a decade later when I found myself in New York City. I’ve been to the Manhattan many times, and I’ve seen all the sites. The past few times, I have been aching to see Ground Zero. This was my time to fulfill the desire that burned deep inside me.

September 11 MemorialAfter lunch at Eataly and my sketchy subway experience, I visited the 9/11 memorial and museum. Lucky for me, I had pre-purchased a ticket for the museum. Otherwise, I would have never stepped foot inside the building. I was a little late, but luckily they shuffled me inside. I asked how long one needed to see the memorial, and I was told three hours. Due to my subway fiasco, my time had been cut down to a little over an hour.

Travel Tip: Buy your tickets online before you go. This will minimize your time in line and guarantee you entry into the memorial museum. 

I entered the memorial museum, and I was surrounded by voices and images of people following the days of the attacks. I listened to their stories and watched the clips. I could feel a lump in my throat and an emptiness in my stomach. I fought the tears that threatened to slide down my cheeks. Where was this emotion coming from?

September 11 People

I wandered through the memorial museum. I saw the “Survivor Stairs” that saved so many The Survivors' Stairs Twin Towerslives. As I walked down the staircase next to them, I saw how they started to fall apart. I imagined what it would be like to run down them in hopes of survival. I had stopped breathing. Now I was really holding back the tears.

The Survivors' Stairs“Go down this set of stairs and then just run, run as fast as you can.” David Brink, Lieutenant, New York Police Department

I continued through the memorial museum in a daze, and I wandered through it several times. Due to the long line and my limited time, I had to skip one of the videos. Otherwise, I saw everything. I left the memorial in a funk. I was somber for the rest of the day into the evening. Walking through the memorial brought me back to the void I felt so many years ago.

September 11 Fire Truck

The gift shop was a weird experience. To support the memorial, I looked around searching for something to remember the most horrible day of my life. But nothing felt right; nothing felt appropriate.

September 11

The memorial is a powerful place that makes you remember the horrific events that happened so long ago. You are reminded of how we were once vulnerable to evil. You learn about the innocent people who lost their lives for no reason. Their stories are shared; their faces are remembered.

September 11 Never Forget

Although I left with a heavy heart, I am glad I experienced the memorial. I will never ever forget…

Never Forget September 11


Share your 9/11 stories in the comments section below.

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There Are 14 Brilliant Comments

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  1. plcfla says:

    Gina this is beautiful, a heartfelt reminder of that day. Your writing brought me right back to the moment I found out what was happening. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Laura Wiegman says:

    Gina – your writing brought me to tears..A good friend of mine lost her husband that day. He was a paramedic who saved a woman and then went back in the building never to be seen again. So many lives were changed by that act of heroism by just one man. There were so many acts of heroism to remember that horrible day..

  3. david brink says:

    thanks for putting up a photo where i survived the second collapse and so many people made it out alive..david brink nypd-esu (ret)

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