Memorial site dramatically different 15 years later: A personal reflection of the 9/11 Memorial in New York

NEW YORK, New York – Walking around the 9/11 Memorial in New York was an eye-opening experience. For the first time I was seeing the site that I had only seen on TV, read about in the newspaper or seen in magazines. The two square fountains bring tranquility to the site of the country’s worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history. I ran my fingers over the names of the lives lost that are etched into the walls of the fountain.

The outside of the memorial is only the beginning. As you descend into the museum large objects appear…mangled steel, a fire truck and a support wall of the buildings that once stood there.

Once on the ground, small exhibits show a more personal look at what was lost that day.

A woman’s purse, brief case, wallet with credit cards, driver’s license, photos, key ring and cell phone. All items that we think so little of, but are chilling to look at and know, this lady never made it home.

The museumgoers are silent, as they walk around looking at the artifacts and listening to the answering machine recordings, frantic 911 calls and radio transmissions.

Looking at each exhibit and remembering that horrifying morning, I would hope that the families of the lost can get some kind of closure seeing this memorial to their loved ones.

Returning to the outside, you are met with birds chirping, the bright sunlight and the calming sound of running water. If you close your eyes, you can hear the sirens in the background, see the ghostly images of determined firefighters and paramedics covered in dust…Frantic workers and citizens of New York, crying, talking on cellphones as they fled from the falling debris of the towers. Open your eyes, 15 years later and the landscape is dramatically different.

Todd Bowman is a paramedic/firefighter in Washington County, Maryland and journalist. He is a former editor-in-chief of The Picket. Follow him on Twitter @todd_bowman87.

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