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At the World Trade Center Site
June 2, 2010 - Al Stephenson
On our recent trip to New York we stayed in a hotel near the Newark Airport at our daughter's urging. She had stayed in the Hilton next to Newark Penn Station on her two trips to NYC with the OU Marching 110. She said we could take a train into Manhattan from there and that it would be much easier than driving in.
She was correct of course and we took the PATH train to the World Trade Center area on our first day. As we emerged from the subway station we were met by a fence surrounding the block where the World Trade Center twin towers were located. The city is in the process of building a memorial for the victims of 9/11.
As we walked through the area I couldn't help but wonder how an airplane could navigate the already existing buildings to get to the twin towers. Then I realized that the current skyscrapers are some thirty stories high. The towers had 110 floors so no navigation was necessary.
As we walked around the construction area we came to a temporary museum. We entered and my thoughts went to the museum we toured in Oklahoma City that told the story of the bombing of the federal building. That stop was moving as you saw how the world changed as a result of one man's actions.
The stop in NYC was very similar and we left the museum saddened at the thought of what took place on that fateful day. There were a number of exhibits that made us pause and I would like to share three of them with you.
One of the most thought provoking sites was a window from one of the planes. As my wife said, "we tend to think of the victims of the buildings and forget about those that were on the planes." I can not imagine the ordeal the passengers went through before their ultimate deaths.
I also was taken aback by a comment from a bystander on that day. It was located on a wall by a photograph of the burning towers. He mentioned how incomprehensible it was to watch people grab hold of each other and then jump from the inferno. It is difficult to imagine having to choose how you want to end your life.
The last thing that affected both of us was in the area where family members of the victims had sent photographs and momentos of their deceased loved ones. A postcard from a little boy had the following inscribed on it.
"Dear Dad, I hope that you are happy in heaven."
The view from my seat suggests that I may go back when the final memorial is completed in 2014. Until then the memories are so fresh that you will understand when I tell you that we left the museum with tears in our eyes.
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