There are no words adequate to describe the sheer size while looking up at the tower gleaming against the bright blue sky. No words to describe the deep emotion running through a crowd that stands mostly silent around the perimeter of the two pools ringed with names of the nearly three thousand that died.
Each day memorial staff place white roses in the names of those victims who would have been celebrating birthdays. Their lives are remembered by their families still and now complete strangers linger to gently touch the letters of the names cut into the smooth stone. Showing respect. Honoring.
Inside the museum our tour guide provides detailed history. She is careful of our feelings, telling us it’s a difficult story to hear, to have experienced, to remember.
She reminds us that there are those among us that were not yet alive on that day and that it is important to tell the story. To not forget. To pass the lessons on.
In the great hall there stands the last piece of formative steel to be removed from the site. Taped to it are pictures of some of those that died, put there by the construction crews and city employees working on the cleanup. A makeshift memorial captured and preserved forever.
A long wall is covered in tiles, each of the 2,996 a different shade of blue, no two alike, because each of the 2,996 victims was unique. Blue, because the sky on September 11, 2001 was the wonderful clear blue of a perfect autumn day.
There are things inside the museum that are hard to see but important to remember. There is a room with photos of each of the victims. Photos lined up, from floor to ceiling, row after row of faces smiling, eyes looking back, stories to be told, memories captured.
But our guide reminds us that this memorial wasn’t built with hate. It was built with love. And that coming to visit is an act of love and respect and honor.
So we swallow our tears and we promise to pass the story on to the next generation in hope and peace.
And then we move out of the museum and back onto the streets of New York City under a brilliant blue sky.