Cassie Shepherd

October 4, 2010

NYC Part II - WTC


This was my favorite part of the trip. Last time I visited the World Trade Center Memorial it was five years after September 11. Frankly, there wasn't much to see. They had a nice timeline of events from that awful day. This time around was much more meaningful. I received a much better understanding and perspective of that day.

First, we visited the Visitor Center. It was sad. I cried. However, I am thankful it is there. It is small right now, but eventually the memorial will grow and it is still a very powerful and moving experience. Down stairs there is a wall that talks about what we've learned from September 11. Near that wall is an area that focuses on what children have said about that day. Wow. This was especially hard for me because I love working with kids. That is where my passion is. And to hear the devastation in their quotes and letters was sad. There was one in particular that really hit me. A lunch lady from a near by elementary school had submitted it. On September 11 she explained that she had overheard a little boy in the lunch room turn to his friend and say, "I think both of my parents just died." (This may not be exact word for word - but pretty close.)

Photos submitted by families of those who were lost. There were three large walls of photos like this.

A couple of the plaques remembering those who lost their lives

Part of one of the towers

Second, we took a tour around the Ground Zero. Our tour guide was a chief fire officer in New York that survived on September 11. I am SO glad we made time for this tour. If we hadn't, we would've missed the beautiful bronze Fire Department of New York Memorial. For me, the tour was the high light of our trip. 

Our tour guide





In 2006 this memorial was given by Holland & Knight LLP. One of the partners in the law firm, Glenn J. Winuk, was a volunteer fire fighter that left work and went to help when the towers were hit. This memorial is dedicated to him and the 343 other fire fighters who lost their lives that day.

The tour took us around through the World Financial Center so we could get some different views of Ground Zero. We passed by a building that was still completely under construction. Well, everything there is under construction, but, this building was covered in blue tarps to trap in the bad air and chemicals that have settled there since 9/11. Our guide explained they have to be very careful as they take the building down. They take one floor down at a time. I didn't expect this almost 10 years later.




We took a seat in the World Financial Center where we could stare directly at Ground Zero. Our tour guide explained exactly where the towers and surrounding buildings were. I was surprised at how much I learned from her. She gave us a great perspective at how tall the buildings were. She told us how if you worked in the high towers of the building you actually could feel the towers sway. They were designed to move back and forth up to three feet. She said that people commented on feeling sea sick if they weren't used to it. That was really interesting to me! She also said that clouds would settle lower in the city so while it may look cloudy to someone on floor 20, on floor 110 it could look sunny without a cloud in the sky.

She then recounted her experiences on 9/11. I was in tears as she explained that she had known over 250 of the 343 fire fighters that were "murdered." Maybe I've heard it put that way before, but I don't recall anyone I know using the term "murdered" in relation to 9/11. However, she said it powerfully. She had directly been working with seven specific firefighters that were lost. She said that out of those seven - they've only found the remains of two of them. 

How naive I feel to have not realized how there are so many remains that have been lost. She said that there are still over 1000 people who have not been "identified." Not too long ago, she went to lunch with one of the men who has been working on the forensics who try to identify any remains found. He has been doing it for the last 9 years. She said he wept because he felt so bad that they haven't been able to identify more people and bring peace to their families. There is a sight off of Staten Island where all the rubble has been taken. They are going to begin going through the rubble again, by hand, in search of any sort of remains. During construction, they also continue to find remains at Ground Zero on a daily basis.

She really emphasized on a couple of things. One, being down there was a lot harder to figure out what was going on. She said that most of us probably had a better idea from the television then actually being down there. It was very chaotic. 

Two, there was more damage then just the two towers. The WTC had quite a few buildings - 7 actually. After the towers fell WTC 5 was completely on fire. All 48 floors. She said a lot of people forget that that fell too - around 5:00 PM. From a fire fighter perspective she said they were directed just to let it burn because there was so much damage. 

Three, once everything settled - it was a very hazardous condition to work in. 

Four, she expressed how grateful she was for everyone who donated and volunteered their time. Between her and our other tour guide they explained how amazing it was to see our country come together and give. She said at one time they needed dog food for the dogs on sight helping with rescues. She made one phone call. They received not only enough food to make the dogs on sight feel like kings, but, they also fed every single dog pound in Manhattan for over a year. They also explained it was the same thing when they asked for some plastic forks. They got so many forks donated she had to call and ask them to stop.

If only our country and her people could always be like that.

This area of the World Financial Center was re-built and finished within a year after the devastation.

Our tour guide also painted a wonderful picture of what the new area is hoped to look like. They are going to have two reflecting pools with the names of all those who were lost right on the spots where the towers stood. WTC 1 is being re-built diagonal to it and will be taller than the original. WTC 2 will be on the south end and not as large. There will be a number of other small buildings that will surround them and the beautiful gardens. These buildings will also include a larger visitor's center. 

Future

Present - It is hard to tell without being there

We ended the tour at the American Express building. That hits close to home for us because my brother works there on a regular basis. We joke that NY is his second home because he seems to fly there so much on business. 


The Eleven Tears Memorial was dedicated to eleven employees who were killed on 9/11. It is one of the most beautiful memorials I've seen. I loved it. You can see the crystal tear drop behind us in a pool of water held by Brazilian quartz. The names of those that were lost are on the out skirts of the pool. There are continuous droplets of water that fall from the ceiling - like tear drops.

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