I visited the World Trade Center site today, as I have all but one of the past seventeen years.
The one-year anniversary was filled with events, music, messages, reverence, and remembering. I went to a service with Kristin, the friend with whom I had watched in horror from a rooftop in Brooklyn as the Twin Towers burned. After the service we went to an installation, left messages of peace somewhere, sang songs. Other years I caught part of the recitation of names. Twice I went to St. Paul’s Chapel. Now, finally, there are the water memorials to visit, with the names engraved along the sides. Today someone had placed flowers all over the names. Calvi, Cisneros, Muvoolo, Schneider, Jeffers, Hoffman, West, Armstrong, Swaine, Leo, Sullivan, Buckley, Levine. I realized being there today that, while the memorials give us place to honor the lives lost there, and pay tribute to the disaster in a beautiful way, they also remove the visitors from the event. Those years where you stood looking at the hole in the earth, a gaping wound, allowed access to something of the rawness of the ground. It is a different kind of site now. A different kind of pilgrimage.
Here’s a little piece I wrote, years ago.