An Opportunity to Virtually Visit a 9/11 Memorial

Around midnight, I visited the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield, PA.  The fountain is composed of two, 9-foot-high towers of water symbolizing the missing Twin Towers surrounded by a shallow pool of water.  Illuminated by spotlights, the water towers looked unsubstantial, like tall, solemn ghosts.  A string of hand-drawn hearts the size of my palms cupped together, strung from tree-to-tree, decorated the entire park.  There was a leaflet explaining the hearts:

As you enter the drive into Memorial Park, and then continue the walking journey of the Garden of Reflection you will see 2,973 Healing Hearts fluttering in the wind, strung from tree to tree.  These hearts are an expression of the emotions invoked within each young person who created a heart; one for every person who perished on that horrific day.  These Healing Hearts are reminiscence of Tibetan Prayer Flags.  Just as the Tibetan Prayer Flags promote peace, compassion, and strength to all, these Healing Herts send out similar messages (of honor and hope).  As you continue your journey, which leads from sorrowful reminders of the tragedy and grief towards luminous symbols of Hope, Peace, and Celebration of Life, these Healing Hearts will be blown by the winds to spread those thoughts and prayers into all the prevailing space, sending their messages to all.

By viewing these Healing Hearts you are reminded to pray for those we lost and their families who continue to grieve, as well as a peaceful future for the world.  –Tara Bane-DellaCorte

When I realized that each of those paper hearts represented a person who died in 9/11–in NYC, in the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania–the impact was powerful and shocking, to say the least.  There were so many hearts.  They were everywhere.  Actually seeing the number of people physically represented, actually grasping the reality of the number, was overwhelming.

It reminded me of the time I visited Boston with a group of friends and we stopped to see the Holocaust Memorial.  Along a small walkway there are a series of glass towers about three stories tall each.  A sequence of unique numbers are etched into the glass.  My friend didn’t understand. “What are all these numbers?” he asked, tracing his finger across them.

“Each number represents someone who died in a concentration camp.  These are the numbers that were tattooed on their arms.”

Stunned, he gazed upwards at the wall of numbers.  “This many people died in the Holocaust?” he asked.

Another friend shook her head.  “This is how many died in just one camp.”  She pointed at our feet where “Auschwitz” was carved into the granite.

If you can’t get to a 9/11 memorial in person today, the park offers a virtual tour on their website. Did you know that most of the steel remains from the World Trade Center lives in Pennsylvania now?  It was originally manufactured in Coatsville, Pa and apparently it was returned there during the clean up.  The Garden of Reflection has a large piece of its own, standing like a modern art statue.

Piece of the World Trade Center, The Garden of Reflection, Lower Makefield, PA

My StoryCorps Moment: Remembering 9/11

I’ve been listening to NPR a lot this week and most of the reports have been circulating on various topics surrounding 9/11.  One is about the psychology of the generations who don’t remember the event.  It seems strange, but I guess I’m probably one of the youngest age-groups that can vividly remember the events of that day.  I was in 7th grade.  My teachers lost any conviction of teaching and we watched people jump out of the Towers on the classroom televisions until Administration pulled the cable plugs, probably worried about parents complaining.  Some of the kids were freaking out about the economy crashing and I remember being so pissed at these cold, snobby, practical classmates.  “Who cares about the economy?!” I shouted at one who was pretending he knew what he was talking about.  “There are people dying!”

My dad was sobbing when I came home and wouldn’t let me near the TV for the next few days because they kept playing the footage over and over again.

Listening to the NPR reports, I was introduced to StoryCorps, an oral history collecting, non-profit organization which I am now totally in love with.  They believe every life is important and are currently committed to making sure that they collect at least one story for every person who died in 9/11.  I think it is a really noble goal, to make sure everyone is remembered.

Below is the one I heard on the radio.  The one that made me cry so much that I had to hide in a different parking lot to calm down before work.