By Jay Donnell
On July 22 I made the the trip up to New York for Hatton-Brown Publishers and Hatton-Brown Expositions (my day job). I decided to fly in a day early so that I could spend a little time in New York City because I had never been there and wanted to get a small taste of the world famous city before I embarked on my journey across New York State and Pennsylvania.
I had less than 24 hours to spend in the Big Apple and the only thing I really wanted to do besides see a friend and enjoy an adult beverage was visit the 9/11 Memorial. I had heard a lot about it from friends who had been to NYC and while the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, etc. are all great tourist attractions, I knew my time was limited so I made visiting the World Trade Center my top priority.
On the morning of Sunday, July 23, I made the walk from my hotel on 31st Street down to the World Trade Center memorial where thousands of people gathered to see the sights. I wasn’t exactly sure where the actual museum was so I walked into the World Trade Center terminal building and immediately saw a massive photo replica of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. There were all kinds of stores including a giant Apple shop inside the facility.
I wandered back outside and hundreds of people were standing around a large waterfall structure where the names of the victims of the September 11 attacks were inscribed. There was also a very long line of people waiting to get inside the museum dedicated to the horrific tragedy. I stood in line for a while, but the line didn’t seem to be moving anywhere and I didn’t have a lot of time so I walked over toward the waterfall pool. I felt a wave of emotions rush over me as I read the names of the victims engraved into stone all over the structure. This pool and another one like it nearby represent the bases of the two towers that went down on 9/11. It made me think back to the day of the attack.
I was only 11-years-old on September 11, 2001, but I remember my fifth grade teacher wheeling in a TV and turning on a news channel to show us all what was going on. All of us young students sat in awe while watching replay after replay of planes crashing into the twin towers. One of my classmates’ parents was on a flight to NYC that day and he was bursting in tears. Everybody was scared, but he was absolutely beside himself, not knowing if his parents were safe. Luckily a teacher was able to contact his parents and he was able to talk to them on the phone, easing his concerns. I don’t remember too many details about that day as far as how I was feeling, but I do remember being shocked and in the ensuing hours realizing this was an incredibly sad time for our country.
Nearly 10 years later, the day Osama bin Laden was killed I felt a sense of justice, but also felt like there were so many others responsible. It was great that we took out bin Laden, but the amount of planning it took to pull off something like 9/11 took years and lots of people so I’m not sure justice will ever be served for the heartless and cowardly attack on our nation.
When I look back on 9/11 I think of the policemen and firefighters who sacrificed so much in order to save as many people as they could, many losing their lives in the process. I think of an image of a policeman saluting with tears streaming down his face. While I was only a child I’ll never forget that day and the days that followed. I can only hope that America will never experience another attack like that again. Flight regulations have gotten much stricter and traveling isn’t nearly as easy as it once was. Sometimes I find myself getting impatient while standing in airport security lines, but I always try to remind myself there’s a good reason for all of this. We can prevent another attack on this country if the proper security measures are in place though it’s hard to agree on what exactly those should be.
My trip to New York City was a lot of fun, but it was also a much needed reminder of how great it is to live in America. The newly constructed One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, stands 104 stories tall and serves as a symbol that no matter what anyone does to try and hurt this country we will rebuild and we will move forward because this is the greatest country in the world.