After dim sum, I accompanied my aunt, uncle, and their two friends to the 9/11 memorial. It wasn’t necessarily something I had planned to do on this trip, but it was free and I was pretty curious what it would be like. So much controversy had surrounded the building of the monument, and although ten years have passed, the whole thing isn’t completely done. The main parts of the memorial are the footprints of the Twin Towers. To highlight what has now become open space, the architects designed two water falls. Instead of reaching high into the sky, your focus travels down with the flowing water.

My aunt and uncle had their wedding reception there. To my knowledge, the only time I was in the WTC was when I was also in utero; my mom was pregnant during that reception.
Everyone experienced 9/11 differently. My experience differs greatly from that of my family, who felt firsthand the terror of an attack on their city. For months, my aunt said, the smell of smolders clung to the city.
My memory of 9/11 is this:
I awoke to go to school. Our phone rang, and my mom’s friend advised us to turn on the television. The first tower had just been struck. Nobody knew what to think. We tried to get ahold of our relatives in the city, but phone calls were not an option. I was supposed to have a test that day in history. A few other students and I requested to take it later, and huddled in the office of one of the college counselors. Eventually we were notified that our loved ones were safe. But everything was different. Everything will always be different. Now many of my students are babies born after the millennium. Many of them were born in this post-9/11 world. Since their beginnings, the war on terror has raged. It felt odd having to describe that day, and the days after it, to children who can only imagine.
I’m glad I went to the memorial, if only to see where those towers once stood. Most symbolic of it all, though, was not the water falling or the names chiseled into the darkness. Rather, it was the lone pear tree that survived the attack. It was taken to Van Cortland park to rejuvenate, and recently moved back to ground zero. Yes, it still has slings helping to hold up some of its branches. But so do all of us.