No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

September 11 2001 changed everyone’s world regardless of where you lived. I remember waking up that morning without knowing what had happened. When I got to work there was hushed silence and people crying. I thought one of my colleagues must have died.

“Haven’t you seen the news?” they all said in unison to my question of “what’s happened?”

Their explanation, without the TV footage was grim enough but after watching it again and again and again (as many of us did) the enormity of it left me speechless.

While we empathised with those who had been killed and the loss their families suffered we all felt that the world had become a sadder more dangerous place.

This week I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York. A dreary dark rainy day made indoor activities necessary. I think all the tourists in New York made the same decision and the queue snaked along for many, many turns. My museum ticket was for 2:30PM and when I joined the queue at 2:10PM, they were letting the 1:30PM tickets in. The crowd was getting restless and I felt for the Security and Memorial staff as many people asked what they should do if they had a 2:30 ticket.

“Go away and come back later”

The response was not well accepted

“What? In a minute? It’s 2:29 now?” The man with the thick Yorkshire accent asked.

“All the 2:30 people line up over there” the Security guy said. No-one moved. He was finding it harder and harder to keep his polite “have a nice day” demeanour in tact. After some conjoling, the 2:30 queue formed its separate line in the designated spot and let the 2:00PM folks walk past.

At 3:00PM we were shuffled into the final twists of the snake. The disquiet in the crowd began to settle. Puffs of fog drifting up as they sighed in imperfect patience.

At 3:30 we encountered the first of the ways in which the world has changed: metal detectors and bag checks – the now ubiquitous reminders of the sadder, more dangerous world.

The vaulted ceiling, the dark entrance and the quiet sounds whipped you back to reality and I for one felt guilty that I had been part of a crowd that complained my entry had been delayed.

The Memorial and Museum are both astonishing in their simplicity and reverence. Built into the foundations of one of the towers, the museum’s ramps take you deeper into the earth. The exhibits, both visual and audio are haunting. A loop of photos showing people in the street watching the towers burn and then fall; clutching their mouths; clutching each other, with the sounds of people’s memories of the day playing quietly in the background; so moving that tears flowed down the cheeks of those watching.

These squares of blue representing those who were killed that covers the graves of the unidentified

Images of those killed, nearly 4000; make a particularly poignant display, so much so I did not linger.

The photos made by Stephane Sednaoui in the hours and days after the attack vividly encapsulate the terror inflicted and the subsequent urgency of the first responders who came to help.

The mood of most patrons was somber and reflective. The accents of the world surrounded me. Two young women who were sharing a joke, reminded by fellow visitors that this was not the place.

The outdoor memorial is made up of two deep pools with water cascading down the sides and falling into what seems like a bottomless well. The names of those killed cut into the metal sheets that surround it. Again simple and reverent. Some names have a flower – a tribute to their birthday.

I give this site a five star rating but don’t go expecting to be entertained; go with the expectation that you will leave feeling that this world is still sadder and more dangerous.

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72 thoughts on “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

  1. Well written Robyn.
    For me, you have captured the mood of the place & that awful event – something too extreme to ever be trivialised.

  2. I was in New York at the time the planes hit. The sadness only multiplies as the consequence has been many more deaths of innocents for reasons I cannot understand nor justify.

  3. I visited the 9/11 memorial almost three years ago. I will never forget the experience and feeling of standing in one of the busiest and loudest cities I’ve ever visited and lo, at this very spot, stood a chilling silence.

    When I woke up to 9/11, I saw my father, an Army Ranger, with tears rolling down his cheek and eyes worried, looking at the TV. I had never seen my dad cry over anything other than when his mom passed away. He was a momma’s boy. I was in 6th grade when it happened and I remember asking what was going on. My dad turned to me and looked at me, almost through me. My mom was standing there with her mouth wide open and the hot iron she was working, sat face down on her blouse. I don’t know what happened to the blouse. Going to school that day was an unreal experience. We, as kids, didn’t understand. Teachers didn’t understand and I remember clearly one teacher, Ms. Schaefer, who didn’t have an ounce of compassion for our questions and worries. Some teachers have no clue what kind of role they possess as teachers and mentors. I do remember that things quickly changed in the US, thereafter. Lots of media talk about racial profiling, religious profiling – terms that were entirely new to me, TBH. A new security system was put in place at airports, something that is still completely and entirely dysfunctional – TSA. I traveled to Spain years later, in 2008, during another significant event in time (coalition combat operations in Afghanistan) and it was the first time I experienced interaction with people who disliked the relations of my country. That was a very eye opening experience for me, something for which I am very grateful. Perspective is context and vice versa. I feel so sorry for the families who lost their loved ones on 9/11. I also feel sad for my nation, because they were our people, too.

    Thank you for your writeup about this.

    1. Jess, thank you for your comment I really appreciate your truthful and heartfelt response. I hope that schools now have a strategy for dealing with these sorts of critical incidents. I was a teacher in a high school and at the time our Australian students were very fearful. Our Education department issued a briefing statement for us to use that really helped. It’s neigh in impossible to understand and explain. Travel is as you say a real eyeopener and I think it should be compulsory! Let’s hope our politicians sort it out!

  4. For obvious reasons, I’m relieved they upheld the mood of that day w/in the memorial. 9/11 should never be — or even hint of anything — trite or casual. And that fountain w the water plunging down in the center? Makes me uneasy and i imagine the artist knew that, wanted that. Nice read.

  5. You’re darned right, Robyn, the he world has changed a lot since that awful day. I was at the other end of the world, down under, watching those images with disbelief. In the middle of it all, the commentators for our government subsidised broadcaster, the ABC, without exception were saying ‘what a shame’ and in the same breath adding, ‘but Americans will have to work out why you they are so hated.’ I haven’t listened to them since. Thanks for your post.

    1. Hello – I am not sure what this message means? Have you shared my blog? If so thank you! 🙂 but if you are pretending it’s your work…. hmmmm…. not happy with that. Can you let me know – I relativley new at this blogging caper.

  6. The beautiful memorials built in remembrance to those lost do not fill the void of hopelessness and loss in a person’s heart. Death is final and memorials add to the frustration of knowing that there is nothing further to be done.

  7. Completely agree with you @robynlang3 for #No day shall erase you from the memory of time. But this world day by day getting more dreadful and powerful will surely erase the happiness of many and is doing.

      1. Ya ! I will.
        And your way to present that dreary visit in words is really praiseworthy. 😊😊
        Hope that goodness rise more intensively in the world !

  8. Thank you so much for your blog post….always touching when you speak of 9/11. The emotional reactions that all of it evokes are understandable.

  9. Such a poignant reminder to us all of that traumatic day. A lifelong dream of visiting New York, wouldn’t have been complete for myself and my fiancee without visiting the site, two years ago. The two water falls, impressive in scale and beauty, exude a tranquility horribly absent on that terrible day. It’s a sombre place to visit, and quite rightly.

    Like the Nazi death camps in Poland, a place that all humans should take a trip too and reflect on the sacrifice people made to give us a better world.

    Thank you for this lovely piece of work Robyn.

  10. To write honestly about 9/11 is difficult for me because I am conscious that it is a delicate point in USA. I was 10 years when it happened and I found out two towers were melting because in the place where we bought food there was a TV surrounded by other kids. Everyone was astonished. My teacher of social sciences could not believe it.

    It is funny how impressing it was for many Colombian people considering that we had thousands of valuable lives lost every month in a horrible internal war. Actually, some of the saddest chapters of the Colombian war did not get the attention of 9/11 by local media. Why? I do not know. Perhaps we were used to death but it was unbelievable that an empire with the biggest army in the world, was so vulnerable.

    The highest respect to the pain of the relatives of the victims of your country and mine.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I too found it hard to write this post and ensure I was not disrespectful. I was detached but attached at the same time.

  11. Wir saßen in einer Sitzung, als die Sekretärin hereinstürmmte und sagte es wäre etwas schreckliches geschehen wir solltenden Fernseher anschalten. Ich rief meinen besten Freund in den U S A an und der berichtete mir auch von seiner Schwester im Pentagon, und dass dort auch ein Flugzeug einschlug. Von meiner Generation weiss jeder wo er zu dieser Stunde war.

  12. Truly touching! On that day I was a young 20 year old here in the Midwest witnessing the pandemonium and demand utter distress that had taken place, which eventually changed our country forever. It was truly a day from Hell that occurred on a beautiful sunny day. God bless the person who had taken the picture and you as well for posting it. God bless all of the innocent 3,000 Americans we lost on that day…they will always be rememembered…Never forget and never forgotten!

    1. Thank you I can only imagine what it was like to be there that day. It’s my photo I took it last month when I visited the memorial.

  13. I can feel the vibe of that place in your words. Something that nudged me on the core, as if the place was talking to me. Very well written.

      1. I mean seriously, I’ve never been to America.. just watched it in the news as a kid. knew it was something very wrong, but that emotion of being to a place that has painted walls but is still filled with silent cries and mourns of people who lost their lives and families for no reason is something your words made me feel today.

      2. I didn’t expect to feel as much as I did. The blue wall, the photos all crying out as you say. I too viewed it from afar on the day.

      3. What happened cant be undone.. and sadly, the people doing it don’t seem to stop.

  14. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading this, but you did a great job keeping the respect and sacredness of the place. I have visited it once with friends who are first responders, and it is a place that deserves great reverence. Thank you for upholding that. <3

      1. and not good for me. It is a strange combination. I am proud of her choice and her courage, yet I am terrified about her safety. There are times I wish she had opted for a safe career. 🙁

      2. I understand. We try and bring our children upto be strong and independant BUT not that independent and strong!!! 🙂

  15. This summary is much as we experienced the Memorial one evening in September 2015 – we only viewed the pools and the names. All those names.

    All those names seemed a rather similar memorial in concept as the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington – all those names to be touched. And the Australian War Memorial boards of names in the Hall of Remembrance, here in Canberra.

    In perpetuity.

    During that September evening, it was only the second time I’ve ever felt the presences of spirits – of the 9/11 names, I hope.

    In perpetuity.

  16. Very well written. To this day I cannot get myself to visit the 911 Memorial, having been worrying about my husband who worked in that area. Two hours later I heard from him and two of my children, very relieved and cant fathom what those who have never heard from their loved ones felt….to this day it is so hard to talk about….G-d bless us all.

    1. Thank you for your comment. My New York friend couldn’t go either. It must of been very hard being so close and not knowing. I hope you have good friends around you.

  17. I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the memorial, but your description is exactly how I expected it to be. I remember so many moments from that day and the days to follow. I remember leaving work to go pick up my young children from school just to be with them and keep them safe. The next few days hearing stories from coworkers who had lost cousins, friends, etc… I lived in Rhode Island at the time. Even years later we see the effects of the lives affected by such senseless acts. My son in laws Uncle was killed on flight 93.

    1. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so close to this one event. A tangle of intertwined connections that you don’t see but then feel. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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