On Saturday, I found myself in downtown New York City for half a day. It was the first time I'd been there in almost 20 years.
I walked from Penn Station to Ground Zero, a distance of about three miles, I'd estimate.
Ground Zero was a sobering experience. I had intended to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art but on my way there decided seeing the place that had changed our world was a more worthwhile use of my time. I'd say 9/11 was one of the three most significant events that have taken place during my lifetime with the other two being the moon landing and the fall of the Berlin Wall - all because of what they represented.
They are now excavating the site for its future tower. Fencing surrounds it and they've also put in place meshing that makes it really hard to take photographs. I thought that was silly...everyone was trying to poke their lenses through small openings to take pictures. We should want people to remember what happened there and visual reminders are among the most important to people.
There is also small, dignified museum across the street from the site. It has a few personal belongings and other items that were found afterwards but largely depends on pictures of the victims and video screens to convey its message. It flashes the names of all of those innocents killed that day in alphabetical order. Apparently, it takes four hours to go through all 3,000.
The pictures were very interesting. I was struck by how many of those people shared my first name - Michael - and were about my age (makes sense, the name was among the most popular in North America during Generation X years). They were probably a lot like me; guys who went to work and enjoyed, among other things, sports and beer and their families.
There were lots of boxes of tissues lying around and a lot of the visitors used them. People were actually encouraged to take pictures.
Downstairs was an area where people could write out their thoughts on 9/11 and many of the little cards were thumbtacked to the wall, presumably by staff. I read about 100 of the cards.
Many of them talked about the need to seek peace and arrive at forgiveness. Personally, I like peace but not at the cost of freedom and I think forgiveness is an outrageous suggestion.
When we forgive, we begin to forget. I'd suggest people should visit Ground Zero to remember exactly why we should not forgive.