Whether you lived through it or not, it's worth the trip.

A few years ago, my husband and I took a trip to New York City. I lived there for a bit back in college and hubby visited constantly growing up. We try to go back a few times each year. It's fun sharing our stories and favorite hangout spots, while also creating new ones together.

On this particular trip, we dedicated an entire day to the September 11 Memorial and Museum which was an unforgettable experience.

We didn't know what to expect getting off the subway, but when we came upon the reflection pools, the mood changed entirely. The city is eerily quiet around Ground Zero, as if setting the stage for the experience you are about to encounter. An experience you will never forget.

We walked around the pools, taking in all of the names listed and coming upon white roses every so often. Roses that have been placed in remembrance of those lost 17 years ago. At each rose, I found myself pausing and thinking about placing a rose there for one of my loved ones.


I can't imagine the devastation.

I stopped by one of the pools, standing close to its edge. I looked straight up into the sky, trying my best to envision the massive skyscrapers that once stood there. I never got to see those buildings in person and had no idea what they were as an eighth-grader on the west coast.

I also tried to envision what that day was like 20 years ago. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the faint sounds of sirens. Not even five minutes in and I was already trying to fight back tears.

We purchased our tickets and went inside.

Immediately you start descending into the ground. That's the thing, the entire museum is underground. You wander deep into the roots of the World Trade Center.

This is the first thing you see.


That wall is actually a dam that holds back the Hudson River. Imagine for a second if that wall had been compromised... Manhattan would have been underwater, sunk entirely, like the Titanic. What happened that day was beyond tragic and I shutter to think about it being worse than what it was.

At this point, you realize that you are standing where the supports for the World Trade Center Towers once stood.

You walk through thousands of exhibits. You see firetrucks covered in ash and debris, pieces of the buildings that have been marked with a plaque stating which floor and which tower the piece is from, there is even one single window pane that remained completely unbroken despite the collapsing towers.

On the back wall of this first tower are the uniforms worn by the Navy Seals team who found and killed Osama bin Laden.

Further into the earth you travel.

Next to one flight of stairs are original stairs from the towers. The very same stairs that hundreds and hundreds of people ran down, fleeing for their lives. As you descend, you see this massive mosaic.


The blue tiles were colored by children. Each child was asked to paint their tile with the color they remember the sky being on September 11. The dark ones broke my heart, because I felt like that child only saw darkness during that day and the days to come.

As you continue to weave between the two towers, you walk into to separate rooms filled with photos of every person who lost their life on that day. All 2,996 lives.

Behind you sits the dedication plaque of the Twin Towers on April 4, 1975.

Then you round the corner and come into a complete, real-life timeline of everything that happened the morning of September 11.

You're walking through the city as it wakes up, the planes being loaded with passengers, you even see footage of the terrorists going through security. Try hard not to curse out loud with that one. Never have I been filled with such rage in my life.

You hear the 9-1-1 calls. You hear the voicemails left for loved ones by those in the buildings. You see parts of the planes from the point of impact. You see large shards of glass that fell from the sky.

You. See. Everything.

You feel everything.

As someone who wasn't in New York City on 9/11, I felt as though I was right there in the middle of that morning. And then you see the wall of televisions displaying the worldwide coverage of the attacks. Above it is President George W. Bush's message to the nation and the world.


You then walk through the memorials that were set up for those who passed. The lasting image for me was the sky view of the towers crashing to the ground. Lower Manhattan is completely engulfed in smoke, dust, and debris.


You need an entire day to walk through this memorial. Turn off your phone. And take your time. You become immersed in that day.

It's absolutely unbelievable.

I took very few pictures because, honestly, it doesn't feel right. And, quite frankly, there is just too much to behold. And taking any pictures of hubby and me together to document our trip there seemed utterly disrespectful. We remained quiet for the better part of the afternoon. One look was all it took for us to understand what we had just experienced as tears filled our eyes.

We walked in silence back to our hotel.

The September 11 Memorial and Museum is something every single American needs to see, especially with the events that have unfolded in 2021. We are also an entire generation removed from that day. Most college kids were not even born when this happened.

We all need to feel what happened that day. And yes, it comes with so many emotions... sadness, grief, anger, rage, pride, hope, love, patriotism, and so on.

I will say that there is a video board that you can write messages on. Those messages are then displayed on a wall which has a giant map of the world. The message stands for a brief moment, then becomes a part of the world.

I wrote, "A moment in our life, forever in our hearts. Never forget."

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