Saturday, September 10, 2011

I will never forget

And I'm sure you won't either. I can't believe it's been 10 years since 9/11. I had just started my second year of grad school, finishing up my Masters in Art History, and I was working at the Cincinnati Art Museum as an assistant to the Curator of American Painting and Sculpture. We had just started our day, and I was sitting at my desk which was in an open area of the office, and our intern walked in and told us about the first plane that had hit the tower. I tried logging onto various news websites for more information but they were already overloaded by people all across the country. I remember I called my then-fiance Jeff in hysterics, because I've never been so scared in my entire life, even though we were hundreds of miles away. We didn't have access to a tv in the office, so we all huddled around the radio. It wasn't until I got home later that afternoon that I actually saw images of all the devastation.

When we went to New York last month for the Quilters Take Manhattan event, I knew I wanted to go to Ground Zero. I hadn't been to the city since prior to the attacks, and honestly, I'm not sure I ever saw the Twin Towers on any of my trips there, but something in me just had to bear witness to the place where all of this happened. So Jeff took me there the Saturday morning we were in the city.

When we got off the subway, we had to walk a few block so the actual site. But even that far away, there were already signs that were reminders of that day.

And even though it's nothing like it was on that day ten years ago, I couldn't hide the tears that flowed as soon as we arrived. This is what the site looked like when I saw it last month. The construction of the memorial was still going on, so I wasn't able to see much. But it was enough. To me, it was like standing on hallowed ground.

It's still unimaginable to me to think that so many people lost their lives in such a short amount of time in that location.

And what was utterly amazing to me, is that right across the street from where the towers stood, is St. Paul's Chapel, which sustained no damage, not even a broken window, during the attacks.

St. Paul's Chapel was built in 1766 and is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. After the attacks, the chapel served as a place of refuge for recovery workers at the site, and the wrought iron fences that surround it were used as a makeshift memorial shrine to those lost.

These tombstones in the yard of St. Paul's date to the early 19th century and are less than 100 feet from where the towers stood.

From Ground Zero we walked down to Battery Park, where another artifact of the WTC site now stands. This sculpture, called The Sphere by German artist Fritz Koenig, originally stood between the two towers. It sustained damage during the attacks, but incredibly, it wasn't completely destroyed.

It now serves as a temporary memorial to those that lost their lives on that day, as well as a symbol "of hope and the indestructible spirit of this country".

The plaque in front of it reads

For three decades, this sculpture stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Entitled "The Sphere," it was conceived by by artist Fritz Koenig as a symbol of world peace. It was damaged during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but endures as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of this country. The Sphere was placed here on March 11, 2002, as a temporary memorial to all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

This eternal flame was ignited on September 11, 2002 in honor of all those who were lost. Their spirit and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Here's how The Sphere looked in it's original location. Photo source.

And here is The Sphere as it looked in the rubble of the Twin Towers. Photo source.

And how it looks today, with the eternal flame burning in front of it in Battery Park.

I will never understand the evil that planned and carried out these attacks, nor the senseless loss of so many lives, and even though I didn't know anyone who was lost, the event changed me forever. It, in part, has made me realize that life is incredibly short, and can change, or even end, at a moment's notice. We need to live each day to the fullest, as cliche as it may sound, and share our love and respect for each other. For that lesson learned, I'm grateful.
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