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A day of remembrance

Once again history hit me in the face. It’s a reoccurring theme from travel over the past two years, and the sites of the most impactful moments and memories while spinning around the globe.

Saturday, June 15th started off at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. An 8a early access guided tour with about 20 other guests maximized the impact of the site. There are numerous references that would have likely been  otherwise lost on the vast and cavernous site, some seventy feet below the bustling lower Manhattan streets above.

It’s hard not to get emotional. It’s a very well done and touching tribute to both the 1993 bombing of the WTC as well as the ultimate collapse of the towers on that fateful day and the ensuing public health crisis (my words) from all of the ash in the air that continues to effect thousands of survivors, citizens and volunteers that were exposed in the weeks that followed Sept 11, 2001.

The sky was perfectly blue the morning of our visit, just like Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and it’s hard not to draw comparisons of “just another day” and how quickly life can change.

The visual story that is told: impact steel from the 93-96th floor where AA Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower show the incredible force that caused the towers steel structure to bend and yet remain intact. A section of the North Towers giant antenna lays on its side approximately 1400 feet below where it once reached high into the sky. The granite Survivor Staircase which helped hundreds of survivors to escape is present nearby a multi-ton piece of steel from the south column that is bent in half like a J.

In an area that doesn’t allow photography, thousands of other relics from NYC, The Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania fill the space directly beneath where the north and south towers once stood. Pieces of the airplane’s fuselages, frequently flyers cards from passengers no longer with us, roledexes from offices desks and thousands of posters looking for survivors tell a visual story that needs to be told and remembered.

Work continues to this day. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCEM) Repository on the same bedrock as the museum floor, directly behind an art installation meant to honor all 2,977 victims from 2001 as well as the 6 victims of the 1993 bombing. I believe the guide said more than 40% of victims still remain to be properly identified. As science and technology improves, they hope to continue the work of identifying and returning remains of loved ones more than 20 years later.

The 2,983 shades of blue, each a unique shade is meant to honor each of the individuals but also recount the perfect blue sky on that morning. “No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time” is a fitting and perfect inscription as part of the larger piece entitled “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning”

Upon conclusion of the hours spent below ground at the Museum, we visited the 9/11 Memorial Pools up on the street level. The water falls peacefully. The site is a stunning remembrance to the people and day that changed the course of American History.

It was not all somber and sobering. NYC is, of course, full of life and vibrancy. After reflecting at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, we walked to Chinatown, Little Italy where we had lunches of both cuisines. We then hopped in a taxi up to Macy’s Department store and while walking on 34th St after a quick walk around the worlds largest department store we looked up and saw The Empire State Building where we decided to see if we could purchase a pass to the Observation Deck.

It was another pinch me moment. The cost not cheap, at about $80 per person, brought us to the 80th floor indoor observation deck, then up to the 86th floor outdoor viewing platform before we took a final elevator up to the 102 floor inside the spire of the tower.

The views were incredible. Having visited the City numerous times before, it was a first for me to see it from above and really was an incredible feast for the eyes.

The day of walking continued as we set out for our final destination of the day - Times Square. Tired, hot, legs sore from the more than 15,000 steps, I snapped a few photos and we hopped back in an Uber to Newark, NJ.

The day was not done, and actually far from it. We reconnected over dinner with Jackie and Julian, friends from the 2023 Asia trip where we dined and visited over a three hour meal at Fornos of Spain in a paella and sangria filled evening. It was great catching up and hearing stories about growing up in New Jersey. The restaurant was the site of numerous family get togethers for Jackie over the years and her grandmother still lives in the neighborhood just a few blocks from the restaurant.

To say we packed a lot into a day is an understatement. When you live your life with YODO (you only die once, you get to live everyday) I felt we did a great job of living and making the most of Saturday, June 15th, 2024.

Over and out

Cole from Colorado

Wyatt from the West



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about me:

Hey!  I am Cole from Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2023 I stepped on all seven continents, in a single calendar year, solo!

The year continues to shape my life and my lust for travel.

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