For my 29th birthday Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy got together and sent me off to visit a place I had dreamed about visiting for years, New York City! It was a grand occasion and I enjoyed every waking moment and sleeping one too. I was in THE NYC.
In preparation for my trip I researched all the different spots to visit. My co-worker, a NY native, had an entire book full of places to go, things to see and food to eat. I grew more and more excited. She told me that I absolutely had to visit the 9/11 memorial site. My initial reaction to that wasn't one who was thrilled about the suggestion. I mean, I knew that was something I probably should have wanted to see, but I think I had been a tad removed from September 11th all together. Honestly, I had been kind of tired about "never forget". I would think to myself, of course we are never going to forget because the media will not let us. It was not an insensitive thought. I was very sympathetic to those that lost family members and loved ones. I was sensitive to the fact that our country was under attack. But in the back of my mind it was still so surreal to me.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I had a job interview on campus. I went into the bathroom to look in the mirror and my roommate started yelling. She said "What in the hell is going on? There are planes going into buildings in New York. This can't be real". There we both were gawking at the TV screen as if we were watching some Will Smith movie.
A year passed and I was then on exchange at Howard. The first major event on campus was in memorial of the victims and loved ones of victims. I thought I would connect more since I was on the east coast, closer to NY and up the street from the pentagon. I listened to stories of those who's parents were in one tower or another but they survived. Still removed.
Years letter, I decided while I was in NY celebrating my 29th birthday to take my co-worker up on her suggestion. I wanted to feel the connection. I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. So, we went. When I say that visiting the WTC site was one of the most daunting things I have ever done, I mean it. As we stood in line to enter, I could just feel the heaviness, the sorrow, the hurt that so many still felt 10 years later. There were some with flowers in their hands. Some had Kleenex ready. Others stood with stoic faces, probably not knowing what to feel, just like me.
We entered and almost immediately tears began to flow from my face. It was almost like I could feel the spirits of so many who died that day. I could hear the voices of those that worked so hard to help other make it out of the rubble. I saw the dust, I felt the agony and yet I rejoiced for those that had come and found peace. Finally, I connected. I connected with what it must have felt like that day to be drastically afraid of the unknown. I connected with those whose entire lives were turned upside down with just one act of hatred. I connected with the babies who only had one recollection of their parents, they were killed during a senseless demonstration of malice.
As we walked around the site, we saw people laying flowers down at the names of their beloveds. I remember very distinctly a group of young women huddle by a tree crying their eyes out. There were kiosks for people to find where an individual's names was engraved. It was truly a somber moment. I took a moment to take it all in. I prayed, for healing, closure, understanding and comfort for the lives that this unforgettable day impacted. I prayed for the protection of our country. I also prayed for those innocent people that have been labeled, prejudged and placed into the same category of those that thought to act in such a malicious way.
Finally I can walk away and say, I will "NEVER FORGET"