Where were you on September 11th, 2001?
A question that every American can answer at the drop of a hat. I was only 10, but I remember it like it was yesterday. We listened to the radio in my fifth grade glass after the first tower was struck. Tears streamed down everyone’s face—especially my teacher’s, who knew the true magnitude of the situation—as we listened to the reporter say that the second tower had been hit.
I’ll never forget that day for a multitude of reasons, but most importantly, because it’s a day we must always remember. It reminds us of mourn and respect the innocent lives that were lost, to be prepared to face adversaries, and to realize that, while there will always be evil in this world, it must be faced with hope, courage, and love.
1. The National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, New York:
Naturally, the most astounding memorial is at Ground Zero. The names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on bronze plates around the memorial pools. The detail in the memorial is astounding—the names are algorithmically placed based on the individual’s proximity to the attacks, company, or affiliations. Personally, the most symbolic aspect of this great memorial is the callery pear tree, recovered from the rubble of the collapse and aptly named the “Survivor Tree.” The tree was badly burned and had only one living branch, but it has since grown and thrived—a true reflection of the tragedy and the strength to overcome it.
2. The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
The 184 illuminated benches each represent an individual that perished in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Their names are arranged so that those reading will also be facing the south facade of the building—where the plane hit. The benches dedicated to the victims aboard the planes, however, face skyward along the path that the plane traveled.
3. Logan International Airport’s 9/11 Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts:
The two jets that destroyed the World Trade Center departed from Logan International Airport in Boston. A glass memorial around a tree commemorates the 147 innocent victims about those flights.
4. The Mount Mitchell Scenic Overlook in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey:
The path leading to the memorial chronicles the 9/11 events. A table of black granite lists the names, ages, and towns of those 147 individuals who were lost. At the center, a light stone sculpture by local artist Franco Minervini of an eagle, flying away from Ground Zero, “ascends to a better world.” The eagles talons clutch a mangled steel I-Beam from one of the fallen towers.
5. “Postcards 9/11 Memorial” in Staten Island, New York:
The two white marble wing sculptures received its name because it represents large postcards—each standing 30-feet high—to lost loved ones. Each victim from Staten Island is honored by their name, birthday, place of work, and their profile in silhouette.
6. “Empty Sky” Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey:
In honor of the 746 New Jerseyans killed in both the World Trade Center in 1993 and the 9/11 attacks, the Official New Jersey 9/11 “Empty Sky” memorial, designed with Frederic Schwartz, who co-authored the design with Jessica Jamroz, is to “reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society.” Between the twin walls, a granite path directs toward Ground Zero. Each name is etched in stainless steel. The name derives its name from an appropriate source—Bruce Springsteen’s “Empty Sky,” which was written about the sky where the towers once stood.
7. “To the Struggle Against World Terrorism” in Bayonne, New Jersey:
The piece designed by Russo-Georgian artist Zurab Tsereteli and was given to the United States as a gift from “Russian President Vladimir Putin, the people of Russia and the artist.” The memorial’s central 4-ton, 40-ft long stainless steel teardrop symbolizes, according to Tsereteli, “sadness over grief that will become happiness in the future when terrorism is defeated.” The beautiful piece means more than just that: That even countries with shaken relations stood by our side in the fight against terror.
8. “The Rising” in Valhalla, Westchester County, New Jersey:
Found in Westchester, NY, “The Rising” is dedicated to the city’s victims in the 9/11 attacks. Each victim’s name is engraved, along with a quote provided by a loved one, along the outside of the memorial’s base. 109 steel rods—one for each of the victims—extend skyward and intertwine. Architect Frederic Schwartz shared that the goal of his incredible design “invites families and visitors to look back in memory of their loved ones and look forward as a community, and provides a place for prayer and reflection….The 109 intertwined strands (like DNA) rise 80 feet from the ground reaching upward to the heavens. The rods are bound together in a literal and symbolic gesture exemplifying the strength of the Westchester community and the families who lost loved ones.”
9. “Project 9/11 Indianapolis” in Indianapolis, Indiana:
Project 9/11 is a wonder of sites. The memorial includes four monuments represent the timeline of each plane crash, two steal beams from the fallen Trade Center towers, a life-style bronze eagle with open wings to represent the American spirit and resolve, and a granite wall as a backdrop. The 7-foot wall is particularly striking to me. It is separated by a gap to make it appear broken—a symbolic reminder what happened that tragic day. Inscribed on the wall are a variety of emotions, culminating in expressions of hope and unity.