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The 9/11 Memorial—Healing Waters

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The World Trade Center is living and breathing once again.

Since 9/11, the area we knew as the World Trade Center was a flattened, war torn spot, and a reminder of that horrific day that none of us living today will ever forget. Last September, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, the 9/11 memorial was opened to the public. Two large square pools of running water now sit in each footprint of the Twin Towers, representing not only a place of comfort to those who lost a loved one, a respectful memorial to those who died, but also a reminder how the world came together during a dark time in recent history.

The names of those lost on 911 are etched deep into the bronze parapets surrounding the pools, and are sorted by the business or organization the individual was a part of, or by what plane that person was on. Walking around the pools, it all comes back, name after name, engine company after engine company; some names were joined by the phrase, “and their unborn baby.” While guests are given a timed ticket, there’s no feeling of being rushed; guests can remain as long as they like.

There’s a lot going on in these eight hollowed acres. The water in the pools is in constant motion, like a river, sliding down the side, being pumped up and around, and it’s louder than expected. Because of the thousands of names on the memorial, two electronic directory areas are available to print out a map that shows its location.

Lines surround the popular “survivor tree,” a pear tree planted more than 30 years ago, and found barely alive in the wreckage of the towers. Parks department workers nursed it back to health, and now, replanted and standing 35 feet high, it’s a fitting symbol—and remembrance photo—for the memorial.

It’s still not complete, however. More trees are expected to be planted, the grass is still being watered regularly so it takes root. But what’s there is plenty. For ten years, we lost the reason to look up in that part of town, but now with the steady progress of next door’s Freedom Tower, aka 1 World Trade Center, visitors have a new reason to stretch their necks to gaze upon another stunning tower. It’s one of eight in the works that will surround the pools; one is expected to be the new transit hub, and another a performing arts center.

Today, as the sun began to drop in the sky, the steel buildings surrounding the memorial were set ablaze with its powerful reflection. Listening to the sound of gentle conversation, the lulling waters of the north and south pools, it’s easy to see that what was once a place of sadness has been transformed back into a living and breathing space again.

The 9/11 memorial is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday through Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Last entry is 7 p.m. Prepare for high security searches. Tickets are free but reservations are recommended. 911memorial.org. Visit the 9/11 Preview Site at 20 Vesey Street for more pictures of 9/11, books, and souvenirs.

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