After 9/11/2001, I had only been in Manhattan once that wasn’t in passing (train station to Charlotte, e.g.) and that was seeing a musical in 2003. I had never been particularly close geographically to Ground Zero, despite living less than 160 miles away.
When Rebecca (niece #1), her husband Rico, and a couple of their friends came out from California to NYC around Thanksgiving 2013, one of them items on the Californians’ agenda was to see the 9/11 memorial.
The museum exterior was at the site, but not yet open. There was no charge to get to the plaza at the time, but one had to order tickets ahead of time. We were booked for 4:30 p.m., the last grouping, and we had to pick up tickets beforehand.
At least at that point, they key to the enterprise was patience, for we spent over a half hour waiting in line on an unseasonably cold November afternoon-to-evening. Then we had to go through screening, not unlike what happens when one goes to the airport.
I will say that the waterfalls, the memorial pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers, are quite beautiful, especially at night; wish I could find the pictures I took.
At the end, you end up, as all good museums do, in the gift shop. There was a constant barrage of videos about what happened “that day” and in the weeks thereafter. It was a bit numbing, actually, but not especially moving, oddly.
Only one of these pieces got me emotionally involved, and it was a cartoon – this cartoon from StoryCorps – that actually made me cry.
Now that the 9/11 Tribute Center is complete, I can’t imagine wanting to go back and relive the experience. The State Museum in Albany has some artifacts that I’ve seen, fairly often, and that’s enough for me, for now.