Tourist Spot? I think not.

*I originally wrote this blog post two years ago after visiting the 9/11 Museum in NYC with Mr.B. I’m posting it today in remembrance of all those that lost their lives and for those who are surviving, despite the tragedy that changed us all. 

Yesterday my husband and I took some time and visited the new 9/11 Memorial Museum. The facility is well thought out. Attention to detail has been paid. Visitors will come from all over the world to learn about what happened. Some, to pay their respects. This is good. Then why, do I feel so bad?

It could be the event itself. I have direct connections. We live close, I had a friend escape Tower One. I stood at the train platform waiting for him to return home with a family that wasn’t as lucky and later learned that they lost not one but two members of their family. A close friend’s husband was a NYC firefighter. I saw first hand the effects that day had on their children as they attended funeral after funeral of firefighters who died. Men they considered to be uncles who were now gone. Heroes. I listened as my friend told of her husband’s horrific task of clearing rubble in the aftermath. Listened to her concerns about what he wasn’t telling. Living in such close proximity you can’t go anywhere without bumping into someone with a story…a memory.

There was a lot of controversy about the site and it’s reconstruction. I was curious about it. I think they did a beautiful job honoring those that perished and capturing the sights and sounds of the day and the weeks that followed.

It was overwhelming really. Just like the event itself.

I think the parts that bothered me the most were the Gift Shop, the selfies by other visitors and the huge wall dedicated to the terrorists, complete with pictures. Their faces staring back at me as I stood in this sad spot. These elements felt wrong. Very wrong. As we rounded the corner and came upon the passport of one of the terrorists. I actually said my inside-the-head thought outside my head loud enough to make one of the security guards turn in my direction, “They have no business displaying their photos in this place!”

Maybe it was all the emotion. Maybe it was the 4+ hours it had taken to scratch the surface of the exhibits but by the time I got to the Gift Shop my reaction was, “REALLY?”. While waiting for my husband to use the restroom I sat on a bench and I “people watched”. People are people. They laugh, children run and giggle, people take selfies. But not here. Please not here. This place…it’s special. It should be a place for quiet, for prayer or whatever you do, to reflect and remember. Remember the innocent. Remember the day that changed us.

In the end I am glad this museum was built but I kind of wish it was located elsewhere. I don’t know if my reaction to the museum would have been any better in a different location. However, I can’t imagine being that family member, who lost a loved one here, watching a museum visitor laugh and take selfies on my son or daughter’s gravesite, while their new 9/11 keychain dangles for all to see.

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