Shortly after the World Trade Center fell, I remember hearing people say they went to the site. As in they specifically took vacations to New York to see Ground Zero.
I found that disturbing. I admit, yes, I am all about the dark tourism. Heaven knows I have traveled to my fair share of sites out of morbid curiosity. Battlefields, crime scenes, etc. But those were different.
CONFRONTING THE DARK PART OF MYSELF
Of course not. It was just that some of the places with macabre history that I sought out weren’t always as well known as the World Trade Center. Also, the events hadn’t occured as recently as what went down on 9/11.
Still, it wasn’t anywhere I ever wanted to purposely go. Certainly not in the months immediately following the terrorists attacks. Not anytime. Imagining myself jaunting there bothered me enormously.
I think it was because I was confronting a part of myself I don’t always like. The part that doesn’t quite understand why it is I seek out places where very bad things have happened.
Not always. There are also places where people have died non-traumatic deaths that I visit. I’ve never stopped to do the math, but I bet the ratio of tragic and violent deaths in allegedly haunted places is higher than the accidental or natural, though. And is it right for me to seek such places out?
SOME SITES ARE TOO SACRED TO JAUNT TO
When I really stop and think about it like this and put it in perspective, it makes me think, “If I was killed, how would I feel about people coming to gawk at my Death Place? Or what if it was one of my loved ones? Would I want nosy people like me coming around?”
I always try to be respectful of any place I visit. It’s why I don’t trespass or vandalize. I just want to look.
What I’m really after is to see if anything will happen again like it did at the Shilo Inn or at Harry’s. If it does, will I get an explanation or insight into what’s going on? Will I learn why I’ve had various encounters throughout my life that I can’t explain but am desperate to? Will I get any answers to what lies beyond?
I know a lot of others, be they paranormal investigators, haunted historians, or ghost enthusiasts in general, do what they do for many of the same reasons as me. And we all have our lists, however short they may be, of places we consider sacred and off limits.
That’s how I felt about the World Trade Center. It was too sacred a site to ever visit.
ACCIDENTALLY CONFRONTING GROUND ZERO
We were in New York on September 5 last year. The only place I wanted to see was Central Park. Since our hotel was only a few blocks away, I got to spend a lot of time there.
My husband goes to New York for business often, but he never gets to play tourist. Being in the financial field, he’s always been curious to see Wall Street. We bought Hop On, Hop Off tour bus tickets to make the most of our one day in NYC.
That’s how it was we ended up coming across the World Trade Center Site. We hopped off the bus near Battery Park to see how long the line was for the Statue of Liberty. It was longer than we wanted to invest, so we rechecked the map and saw we weren’t far from the New York Stock Exchange.
It was en route to the NYSE that we tripped upon the construction site for the 1 World Trade Center.
And just like that, there I was. Ground Zero. Or where it had once been, at least. It was in the process of being transformed into something else now.
REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF 9/11
Without realizing we were both doing it, Wayne and I observed a moment of silence. It was odd to be in a place millions of New Yorkers see every day, but one we only knew from images on TV. It was very humbling. We couldn’t help but think of those who had lost their lives and loved ones.
I thought that was the last time I’d see the World Trade Center Site.
I was wrong.
The next evening as the ship navigated down the Hudson, we passed it again.
As is customary when a ship leaves the dock, many cruisers lined the railings. I heard many murmuring, “I wonder how far we are from where the Miracle on the Hudson happened? And can we see where 9/11 happened from here?”
The Cruise Director would come on the intercom and point out sites as we cruised past them. The World Trade Center Site was among them.
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN
There have been two occasions in my life now when I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of awe and the powerful goodness of humanity’s spirit to the point I couldn’t help but weep. One was witnessing one of the space shuttle’s launch in person. The next was on that ship passing Ground Zero/the construction site of the 1 World Trade Center Tower.
The hush that fell across the boat and the feeling of solemnity seemed to touch everyone. Most of the cruisers, both men and women, had tears in their eyes.
Moments later, when the Statue of Liberty came into view on the other side of the ship with the sun beginning to set behind her, the lyrics, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” suddenly popped into my head.
The American Spirit was strong in those precious moments, and my pride in my country was high. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the terrorist attacks that have forever reshaped our nation. My heart still aches for all those who suffered such tremendous sadness and loss that day.
This post is dedicated in remembrance to the victims of 9/11.