That is the simple phrase that is written on the bracelet that I always wear on my right wrist.
The reason that I wear this bracelet is because in the summer of 2012 my senior high school class took a trip to New York City as a graduation celebration. Coming into the city, I already had a sense that it was different from my hometown of Los Angeles in many ways. On approaching the city it was clear and just how expansive and huge the city was, the next was just taking in depth and majesty of all the buildings around us, the traffic, its people, the hustle & bustle of everyone rushing through the crowded sidewalks, just a feeling of organic and completely natural chaos. But while it was a very different environment, it was an interesting one to experience nonetheless. In particular I would like to focus on one particular place that we visited during our time in the city.
On September 11th, 2001, a day that will forever live in infamy, the country and world would be changed forever. Nineteen men were to hijack four American Airline planes destined for the West Coast of the United States. This terrorist attack on the United States is orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Of the four planes, three hit their intended targets. One crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers attempted to retake the plane from the hijackers. Two planes struck the World Trade Center, and the other the Pentagon.
In the span of 102 minutes the Twin Towers located on the World Trade Center site would both collapse and in the aftermath it was determined that nearly 3,000 American lives were lost that day. In the ensuing chaos certainly the lives of nearly every New Yorker was changed forever, not only that the lives of every person around the country would change as well. Following the attacks the lifestyles and aspects of our daily lives would be made much more complicated. As a result of the attacks we were to implement increased security measures in our airports, changes in policy as well, the establishment of Homeland Security, and monitoring of the people as well. This attack would also ultimately lead to the invasion of Afghanistan as well.
Nearly a year after the terrorist attacks, workers continued to remove the debris and recover bodies and remains from the ruins of the Twin Towers. Intense debate raged over how best to rebuild the World Trade Center, or whether it should even be rebuilt, as well as how to memorialize the thousands of victims, to either build a memorial or to leave it simply as hallowed ground. Though initial plans called for the rebuild to be completed by September 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attacks, there were various issues that the planners and people associated with the site had to face. The 9/11 Memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2011.
An international competition was stared in 2003, and asked for design proposals for a national memorial to honor and remember the lives of those lost on 9/11. The winning design–“Reflecting Absence,” by architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker was chosen out of more than 5,000 submissions from over 60 countries. Construction began in 2006, and over the course of five years the site would begin to take its shape to reflect the loss shared by so many that day.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum now occupies about half of the 16-acre World Trade Center site. The memorial itself contains two large waterfalls and reflecting pools, both an acre in size, set where the Twin Towers originally stood and fell on 9/11. The names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, including those lost at the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania, are inscribed in bronze surrounding the pools The memorial was dedicated on September 11th, 2011, on the ten year anniversary of the attacks, in a ceremony for the families of the victims; and was opened to the public the following day.
The not only was the memorial built but the World Trade Center itself was also reconstructed and rebuilt, the new building to take the place of the original towers, named “World Trade Center One” or “Freedom Tower” has already been completed as of this year, reaching a height of 1,776ft , it draws its design from the towers which looks like the originals melding into one.
From personal experience in visiting the site I can say that it was one of the most humbling and somber moments that I have ever had in my life, knowing what had transpired there, the lives lost, the loss was an incredible learning experience. The serenity and calm of the place left me in a place of remembrance and empathy. Not only that but just as my bracelet says I did indeed feel a sense of hope, even after all the death and destruction, the American people were able to persevere against that loss and sadness, we were able to rebuild. I am positive that if you ask any person that lives in New York City now, if anything one outcome of the 9/11 attacks was that it brought the people of the city together, and the country as well. We have adopted that dark day into our heritage and culture, b not letting what occurred on this site fall into the pages of history, we remember those that lost their lives. Which is why I firmly believe that the 9/11 memorial should be nominated as a World Heritage Site, to showcase not only a beautiful and incredible work or human genius, but to show how our culture/heritage and definition of being “American” changed that day as well.
All photos regarding the site were taken by me, and I will be adding a complete photo album up soon!!!