This year, I had the opportunity to actually visit what we now call Ground Zero. There isn't much to see.
(I'm told there's a viewing platform, but it was either closed due to protesting/issues with the Mosque proposed for the area, or we just couldn't find it while we were there.)
Even though all we could see was chain link fence covered in pictures of what it is going to look like when its finished, its still a pretty moving experience.
It was really hard to imagine what those street corners looked like when there were two ENORMOUS buildings towering over them.
Really hard to imagine how many hundreds and thousands more people would have streamed down those streets on any given work day.
But a few things really struck a chord with me, and I don't think I'll ever lose the enormity of emotions they made me feel.
I remember walking past area churches, each of which I'd seen on TV on that day back in 2001, where people covered in ash were sitting on curbs, staring in awe at what had happened. I remember seeing wrought iron fences that filled the background of television shots of people fleeing the falling buildings. When I saw them that day I toured lower Manhattan with my friends, I remember thinking, This was REAL. This is where THAT ALL HAPPENED.
Not that I ever really doubted it...but those churches...are really OLD. I was struck with this sense of HISTORY and maybe that's what hit me most of all...that what those buildings had seen was just another (horrible, tragic, worst-ever) piece of history the same as they'd been witnessing events for hundreds of years.
Headstone in the Trinity graveyard.
In case you can't read it this person passed away in 1760.
It was ninety-some degrees that August morning we walked down Liberty and Church streets, and we ducked into a little store to buy some drinks. We were very near Ground Zero but hadn't yet seen it. As my friends debated lemonade versus bottled water, I saw it...on the back wall...
...and was struck that people had come here for help on that scary, horrible, sad sad day. It had been used as a make-shift Red Cross station. To say this simple thing moved me is dumbing it down.
But the single thing that struck me in my heart and made me realize how amazing the heros of that day were in what was the ordinariness of their every-day was when looking in on the FDNY Ten House. There is a memorial there, on the inside wall of the station, with pictures of each of the firemen from that house who lost their lives on that day.
They were so young. They were so...they looked very much like my husband does...so much like the guys from his department.
Thanks to Melisa for the photo!
I was hit by the fact -- as I am on a regular basis -- that any given call may be their last. As a deputy's wife, I know this, but have to push it aside. You can't worry constantly. You can't worry that every traffic stop might contain a gun and a felon. You can't worry that every domestic violence call might contain a knife and someone high on PCP.
But those men that day...no one left their station expecting that the building might fall and trap them inside.
I've put off posting this for a few days simply because I'm not really sure how to end it. I've written and re-written this, and really, what struck me the most, personally, was that I've been scared before that my husband wasn't going to be coming home.
I pray to God that I never have to experience what the loved ones of those officers experienced when they knew their husband/son/brother/mom/sister wasn't coming home again.