This is our JFK assassination. Our Pearl Harbor. Where were you when…. moment.
The moment that changed a generation.
So when Paul and I took the kids to New York City before Christmas 2013, the Ground Zero Memorial was on my short list of places to see. It was our last full day in NYC and raining. We stood in line for about 45 minutes. While we stood in line, snaking through the vinyl cords separating the up line from the back line I could not stop the flashing back. To the first plane – what the hell? Second plane – no way this is a fluke! Pentagon – is my best friend’s husband ok?! PA takedown – (breathless).
Meanwhile, Tyler did not want to be rained on anymore and Anna was hungry. They were just being typical tweens, but I about lost my head. I’m sorry, but several people were so struck with fear that they thought it was better to jump to their death than stay in the tower… and you want to leave because you are a LITTLE DAMP?! Survivors were buried for days before being discovered alive in the rubble by heroic, nameless first responders and YOU WANT A SNACK?!
Then we entered the security building. The kids had been through TSA shenanigans before – they knew not to joke about well, anything. We emptied backpacks. Removed shoes. Got scanned. Reassembled like the vacation-style Avengers we were. Kids crabbing all the way. “Why do we have to take off our shoes?” “Why isn’t the museum open – its been 12 years?!” “Are we almost done now?” Then we exited the security building onto Ground Zero.
I am sure the term “ground zero” has been used before. Where devastation happened? Probably. Where a crime spree started? Sure. But now we are talking capital G, capital Z – Ground Zero. Rain felt like the tears of a nation coming down on us. Tears slid down my face like they slid down the granite markers with the names engraved of each victim. It took my breath away. Decades of life reduced to 10, 15, 20 characters engraved in stone. Stone that middle schoolers would overlook on their way to a snack bar in the dry shop. What would I do differently having seen it? How would my 40 years be worth more.
What if it is worth less?
Knees buckling I could only lean on the granite for support as I tried to take photos to remember the desolation. The fear. The panic. And that was for us that were not even there. Not even in the time zone when It Happened. I took this photo as a reminder that – some day we are reduced to a name in granite. What is left behind is how those of us Left Behind remember us. Do they remember us sheltering them from the rain or ignoring their discomfort? Do they remember us passing over our last snack that we just happened to have because the thought of Ground Zero made us lose our stomach?
These are the moments, people. The moments are today. They are NOW. They are before breakfast and on the way to soccer practice. Be awake. Be alert. Be present.
Ground Zero Memorial Information
- Taken By: Susan
- Date Taken: 23-Dec-2013
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D
- Lens: Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
- Exposure: 1/320 sec at f/6.3
- Focal Length: 28 mm
- ISO: 1250
- Flash: Did not fire