I was recently at One World Trade Center as I occasionally am for business and as I always do, I paid my respects to all those who perished on that horrible morning in 2001. I was there that morning and saw the first plane as it flew towards it’s intended target. Fortunately, I was far enough away from the tower when it hit that I was not directly affected by the impact. But that day, like the Kennedy assassination and the Martin Luther King assassination was a day that no one who lived through it will ever forget.
As I stopped at the North Tower Memorial to recognize and pay respects to the brother of a friend, I was unable to get near the memorial as there were approximately 12 tourists taking a selfie. Well I must admit that this enraged me. So much so that I had to say something to this heartless group of ignorant individuals and no one should defend them or anyone else from that criticism.
Let me be 100% clear and as concise as I can be. The 9/11 memorial is not a national park. It is not a traditional tourist attraction like Mount Rushmore. The World Trade Center 9/11 memorial is a Graveyard. It’s a Cemetery. When was the last time that you took a photo at your relative’s burial plot?!! It’s unfeeling, it’s stupid and completely without thought or sensitivity to stand there and take photos like you’re having a wonderful time in the great outdoors.
It’s not difficult to understand that every time I’m there, all these years later, I can’t help but have tears in my eyes thinking of all those who perished that terrible morning. So please if you’re reading this and have never been there and plan on going, or even if you are there daily, treat that site as if its sacred ground worthy of respect, solemnity, and sadness because it is.
I couldn’t agree more. Well said.
I just want to extend my thanks to you Professor Curtis for writing this. For those that have read your thoughts on the 9/11 memorial and may now be reading my reply, it is my brother Joseph that Professor Curtis is referring to whose spot at the memorial he so honorably visits to pay his respects. I often scratch my head when I go to the memorial and see people smiling and carrying on as if you so accurately described it, that they were in a park.
After 9/11 I wanted to do something meaningful to share my brothers story and keep his memory alive and tell others about the most tragic day in not only my life but the lives of everyone in the country. I was given that opportunity when a group of survivors formed the first museum called the 9/11 Tribute Center. It was created to give visitors a person to person, first hand account of that terrible day through the eyes of those that had been there or had lost a loved one. At first it was an amazing experience . I met so many wonderful people that shared their stories with me. It was the therapy I needed . I volunteered when I could and met people from all around the world that were so compassionate and caring. We took visitors on a walking tour around the WTC site and described to them the events of the day and then shared our personal story at the end. This wa before the memorial had opened. At that time those visitors that came truly wanted to pay their respects and hear our story. I’m sorry to say that all changed when the memorial opened.
When the memorial opened every tour group in the city started selling tickets to make a buck. Tourists flocked to see the memorial without the slightest idea of what they were looking at or seem to even care. The disrespectful behavior displayed at the memorial was the worst by far.After a few tours at the memorial and witnessing such disrespectful behavior on hallowed ground I decided that it would be better if I stoped giving tours for a while. I still go on 9/11 every year when the memorial is closed to the general public to pay my respects to my brother and so many others that were killed, but that’s about it.
My ritual everyday is driving by the memorial on my way home from work and saying goodnight to my big brother. That’s as close as I get.
I am fortunate to have such wonderful friends and family that will always be by my side and will never forget my brother or what happened on 9/11. It is them that I owe a debt of gratitude for helping me get through the bad days and give me hope looking forward. You have been one of those friends Professor Curtis. Thank you Prof. It’s truly been an honor.