Monday, September 12, 2011

A Visit To The 9/11 Memorial on 9/12

It was a beautiful day today. The weather was almost exactly as perfect as it was on 9/11/01. A friend called me yesterday to ask if I wanted to go to the 9/11 Memorial opening today. He said his party of friends had an extra ticket. So of course, I went, partially out of curiosity, and partially because I was here in NYC when 9/11 went down and I have seen all the changes that have taken place in the city since then. I wanted to pay my respects to those who suffered, as well.

I got there early and waited, and while I was standing around, I got interviewed by about half a dozen camera crews, as I had a rare 9/11 memorial ticket. They are "free" (they ask for a donation, and who will refuse?), but they are hard to get, as so many people are visiting the memorial right now, they are booked up for well into October, according to the website at I know with some certainty that I will be on Channel 11 news tonight at 5 PM, and Fox 5 borrowed some of the video footage I shot, which should be aired as well. I will upload the video to my YouTube channel soon.

On the morning of 9/11, my sister had flown into JFK to visit me for the weekend. When I saw the smoldering tower and heard a plane had hit the building, I immediately thought of my sister, who I was taking the above ground 7 train to meet at the airport, and began to get nervous. I had my video camera with me so I could record her arrival, but I instead used it to film footage of the 2nd plane hitting the building.

At the airport, my sister's plane was unaccounted for, and so was she. I couldn't get her on the phone and I had no idea where she was. I began to panic. I couldn't get in touch with my boyfriend, I couldn't get in touch with my family, the subways were closed and taxis were impossible to catch. I finally made it back to my apartment where I worried and feared for my sister's life for hours. I remember the gut wrenching agony I went through, hoping she was OK. Later, I learned her plane had been rerouted to Maryland and I finally was able to breathe again. I was so fortunate that day to have been able to reconnect with a loved one I thought was gone. So many others weren't as fortunate.

As I walked around the memorial, I found myself become overwhelmed with tears. I had a video camera rolling and filmed my whole visit, which I'll put up on YouTube soon. The site is beautiful, and it is very sad to see two large gaping holes there; two wounds our city will never heal from. They are metaphors for the scars so many of us still have. I was definitely traumatized by those events. I had horrifying nightmares for weeks. I'm a sensitive person, (also known as a "baby" in certain circles) and I was petrified to ride the subway, take public transportation, etc. I'd jump at loud noises or hissing sounds. I couldn't look away from the posters of victims and lost loved ones hanging on almost literally every wall downtown.

Ten years later, I am not fearful of the area anymore. I'm a braver person who has experienced a decade of rejection, betrayal, trauma and pain, and it has served me well. What won't kill you will make you stronger, "they" say, and I bet "they" learned that from experience, too.

At the memorial, I saw none other than one Mr. Dick Cheney. I felt a lot of emotion well up inside of me when I saw him. I thought about yelling something out to him about having a lot of nerve showing his face there, or some other 1950s-type insult, but that was the me of a decade ago, who I guess I briefly met up with, as being there allowed me to time travel in a sense, back to 2011. Plus, if I'd yelled at him, I wouldn't have been able to snap his photo for my evil political henchmen photo collection. He is now officially #2, alongside Dominic Strauss-Kahn.

Instead of casting hate his way, I pitied him. He looked worn and haggard. He looked old and sad. He was thin from going through his many health problems and he is surely not far from meeting those souls he was paying some sort of respects to, in his own way. He must have profound amounts of sadness and regret in his heart, or what's left of it, in ways many of us can't even relate to, and hopefully will never have to relate to. How can a human go through the kinds of ordeals and make the types of decisions he had to make and not feel remorse and regret?

So, no, I didn't "spit on him" as one Facebook commenter suggested. One can only hope that through this tragedy, the world is a kinder, more tolerant place. Who am I to hope for those changes if I can't offer that kind of tolerance and compassion myself?

And I tell people I'm not a hippie.

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