I had the opportunity to see the 9/11 Memorial last year. We entered the Oculus from the subway and looking up, it felt like we were in a futuristic cathedral. The experience of just standing there and being in the space is hard to describe. I was awestruck and also felt an immediate emotional weight from the loss and devastation that had occurred where my feet stood. Unimaginable. Yet, it happened.
Every September 11 the glass ceiling opens and at 10:28 am—when the second tower fell in 2001— the sun shines brightest. Architectural Digest has a short clip of the architect, Santiago Calatrava, explaining.
I grabbed a few pics on my phone before we hurried off to catch our flights.
Walls of murals surround the exterior. Very New York.
The structure’s exterior looks out of place, clearly distinguishing it from the towering buildings on all sides. To me, it looks like a rib cage or a skeletal bird preparing to take flight.
I was sad we weren’t able to wander around and explore the area. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back. I was glad we saw it as we hadn’t planned on going at all. Stressing out about missing our flights was worth it.
Eighteen years ago, I was a conspiracy-minded younger version of myself. Now, well, with nearly 3 decades of adulting behind me I can say I’ve seen how life-changing tragedies such as 9/11 come and go. Memorials are put up, people not directly affected by it remember one day each year—while those who lost loved ones are reminded every day—new policies are put in place, and life marches on.
Even within the Oculus, life marches on. As a transportation hub, people are rushing about as they make for their next destination. It’s a bit surreal, from a tourist’s perspective I suppose, to see hurried lives passing through without pausing or even looking up in awe.
You get used to a thing that’s always there and take it for granted. A building, a memorial, a loved one.
While Never Forget reminds us of the tragedy and horrific loss of life, perhaps it can also remind us to pause, pay attention, and not forget the things and people we take for granted.
Hug your loved ones today. Hug them tomorrow. Hug them as often as you can.