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The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

My first visit to New York was in December of the 9/11 attacks. I bared witness the site of man’s inhumanity to man. Over a decade later, I revisited.

I still remember the morning of September 11, 2001. I called my dad for our usual morning conversation. However, I was shocked when he said he was being evacuated. When I asked why, he instructed me to turn on the television.

What greeted me looked like a video game – something unreal. I was shocked that what I was seeing was happening in real life. People in my university classes and friends began speculating on what was next for America. Some went to gas stations to prepare for the idea of skyrocketed gas prices. We each dealt with our grief in individual ways. One person in a class lost five family friends in the attack.

Three months later, I visited New York for the first time. I remember standing at the attack site, in shock and awe of the reality of what I was viewing. The two holes in the ground. The rescue workers. The makeshift memorials and still present destruction. Names written, memories posted, photographs on the chain link fence.

Ten years later, I stood at the site once more. This time, I stood in front of one of the profound memorials I’ve ever witnessed. It’s one thing to visit a historical grave site of someone whose death happened previous to my birth (for instance, the Buffalo Bill Cody grave site on Lookout Mountain in Colorado). Typically, a marker is there, you read a small summary of that person’s life and you’re done. It’s another thing to view the 9/11 Memorial.

The names of those that died are carved along the memorial’s border. Water cascades down, transforming each of the two memorial sites into a living testimony. We contemplated and reflected on the lives affected – as well as our own.

I didn’t take many photos of the memorial. It’s truly too magnificent to be captured by a camera. The emotion and power present – that’s something that has to be experienced in person.

One more thing – It is tacky AF to take a family portrait at the September 11 memorial. On more than one occasion, I noticed families and people taking portraits and selfies at both the North and South towers.

Would you take a selfie at Dachau or Buchenwald?