Where were you on September 11, 2001? – National 9/11 Memorial Museum, New York City, USA

Where were you on September 11, 2001? I know where I was. It was about half past ten in the evening and I was glued to the telly watching Ally McBeal, a US legal comedy- drama television series. I remember channel surfing during the commercial breaks when I caught a glimpse of a burning building in Manhattan, New York City. Without much context to that image, I didn’t think much of it and went back to that silly TV series. And it was only eight hours later, after my sleep, that I found out what had happened – somewhere 9,531 miles away and 12 hours behind from where I am, some 3,000 innocents had fallen.

It feels rather surreal to be standing at the exact same spot where the iconic World Trade Center stood some 13 years ago. Today, what replaces that two magnificent towers is a memorial museum dedicated to the nearly 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others.

I visited the newly opened 9/11 Memorial Museum over the Memorial Day weekend, just one week after President Obama opened the museum. I was a bit hesitant to visit the museum initially. I was struggling internally because I didn’t know whether I would be overwhelmed by sorrow and pain that surround that fateful day.

Last Column

The 9/11 Museum is not what I had expected. It was not a museum where the negatives were the focus. Instead, what I felt was a sense of dignified silence and serenity in the museum. To me, the museum represents the triumph of the human spirit and despite the fallen of the innocents, it tells us that the evil can never win over the good.

Slurry Wall

The World Trade Center Tridents greet you as you enter the museum. This steel structure withstood the impact of the attacks and today, it remains firmly grounded to its original location.

World Trade Center Tridents

Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning by artist Mr Spencer Finch is the only piece of work commissioned by the museum to honour the dead. It consists of 2,983 individual painted squares – one blue square for every victim fallen in the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre. It’s being displayed on the wall where it contains the remains of the unidentified victims.

Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning

Also displayed at the museum is the remains of Ladder Company 3 Truck from the New York City Fire Department.

Ladder Company 3 Truck, New York City Fire Department

But the exhibit that hits me the most is September 11, 2001. This exhibit has three parts. The first presents the events on that day as they unfolded. The second presents the event that led to the attacks. And the last presents the aftermath to the present day. It’s especially difficult to hear the calls made by the victims to say their final good-byes to their loved ones and see images of helpless people jumping off the building. When I was there, there was this sense of grief and anger that suddenly overwhelmed me. Grief because many innocent lives were taken, anger because this is all due to the act of a terrorist group.

Model of the Sphere

On the whole, the 9/11 Memorial Museum has managed to honour the victims in a dignified manner and present the unbiased facts of what happened on that September morning. It also serves as a reminder to the rest of us living that we should never take peace for granted.

National September 11 Memorial Museum
180 Greenwich Street,
New York, NY 10006

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