Day Eight: The 911 Museum

I knew I wanted to go there, to let the sorrow come at the loss of so many human lives. Upon climbing the subway stairs, I saw the tips of a huge silver wing past the buildings ahead. A block later, the whole expanse spread itself before me. The Oculus. Hearts took flight, heads were lifted again after the trauma of 2001.

Now I was approaching a large square reflecting pool, the exact footprint of one of the twin towers. The water flowed into a central cavity. Angled all around the edge was metal plate, on which were inscribed the names of the nearly 3000 victims. Every so often, a yellow rose grew from a name, noting a birthday. I came upon a fellow whose name was Bruce. It could have been me.

Inside the museum stood a cross of girders – a huge rust red symbol of love and hope. Other artifacts, large and small, took their place in history. Papers burned at the edges, eyeglasses beside a toasted case, a crushed fire truck. And the photos, screaming of human anguish. The videos of impact and devastation.

Down a ramp, rectangular images were projected on a wall. They would slowly appear, linger for awhile, and then fade away. These were posters pleading for the recovery of loved ones – friends and family who also faded away, to reappear forever in the hearts of others. One scrawl under a name said it all: “Have you seen my daddy?”

I took a photo, and then spent minutes studying it. Right at the bottom was the smile of Brooke Jackman, a young woman leaning into a delightful life. I decided to stare at the wall until she returned. It probably took twenty minutes … and there she was, for a few seconds.

I looked for Brooke in the Memoriam room. On the walls were colour photos of all who died on 911. A screen allowed me to input her name. Photos of white dresses, beaming parents, friends at a party. An audio clip from mom sharing Brooke’s love of books, even word of a phone call home from a crossing guard, warning that the young girl was crossing a busy street while reading. And then a wavering dad … saying how Brooke always included everyone. Oh my. Real live human beings.

In an alcove, a sign said “Advisory”, warning of disturbing content. And it was. Photos of people jumping from the burning and smoking. Plus a few quotations. To paraphrase one: “She was dressed in a business suit, her hair awry. She smoothed out her skirt (such an innocent gesture) … and fell.”

Another display tucked in a corner told of Flight 93, and the passengers who overwhelmed the hijackers, causing the plane to land in a Pennsylvania field, rather than in the hallways of the White House. Several passengers reached loved ones by cell phone. I heard the spirit of an overcome woman’s words to her husband:

I pray that I will see your lovely face again

I love you

Goodbye

***

Who amongst us would be moved by this place
and the events it describes?

Every single one

Horse Tragedy

I saw in The London Free Press this morning that a fire near Guelph, Ontario killed 43 horses.  Before I started reading, I stopped.  “May this article focus on the loss of life, and the sadness that creates, rather than on the economic impact of this loss to the horse racing industry.”

I know that the financial ramifications are a legitimate cause for concern.  After all, many families probably have been hit hard.  Dreams may have been shattered.  All this is important.  But I think everything pales before the sanctity of life and the love of one being for another.

Here are some words from the story, in chronological order:

“We have no idea yet” what caused the fire.

The blaze was described as a multimillion-dollar loss.

The operation near Guelph will continue despite the blow.

“We are thinking of the horses that lost their lives, but also those people who relied on those horses for their jobs.”

He called the blaze “devastating” to the tight-knit racing community, which others noted has been rocked by the closing of smaller tracks and the loss of provincial slot machine revenue to fund racing purses.

“It’s almost like losing a child.  These horses, they’re every part of your life … On Christmas morning, when other people are opening gifts with their kids and stuff like that, we’re out at the farm making sure they’re (the horses) taken care of first.”

The most prominent horse lost was Apprentice Hanover, who won about $1 million in purses over his career.

The horses lost were likely trapped in their stalls and couldn’t flee.

“We are all emotionally attached to these animals.”

***

All very human responses
All to be honoured
God bless us, every one