It’s been 20 years since four coordinated terrorist attacks left almost 3,000 people dead and more than 6,000 injured as the Twin Towers collapsed and the Pentagon burned. Every year, America remembers the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil with services, memorials and an outpouring of grief for both the immediate victims and the hundreds of firefighters and rescue personnel who died trying to save them. If you happen to be in New York this 9/11, here are some of the best places to remember and honor those who perished.
The 9/11 Memorial - Manhattan
The World Trade Center occupied 16 acres in Manhattan and eight of them have been given over to this magnificent memorial. It commemorates not only the victims of the 9/11 attack, but those who died in the 1993 bombing which claimed six lives and injured over 1,000 others. The names of the dead are inscribed in bronze around the twin Memorial Pools which are flanked by hundreds of trees, including a lone Callery Pear (the Survivor Tree) that was rescued at Ground Zero. The newest addition to the site is the Memorial Glade, honoring the thousands who died in the aftermath of 9/11 from exposure to hazards and toxins.
St. Paul’s Church – Manhattan
St. Paul’s sits directly across from the former site of the Twin Towers and played an integral part in the aftermath of 9/11. It was miraculously untouched by the blast and didn’t even lose a single pane of glass. In the days and weeks that followed, rescue workers, firefighters and police officers would come to the church to rest during their long and gruelling shifts at Ground Zero. Over 3,000 workers sought shelter in the church where they found a place to rest, fed and supported by a dedicated crew of volunteers that included doctors, podiatrists, counselors, clergy, massage therapists and chefs. Multiple denominations held services here and the fence surrounding the church became covered in banners, photos and messages of hope. In May 2002, a final service was held for the workers and the memorials were carefully put away. At exactly 8:46 am on 9/11, the Bell of Hope is rung at St. Paul’s, a gift to the city by the Lord Mayor of London a year after the attacks.
Postcards Memorial – Staten Island
Two white marble sculptures stand thirty feet high along the North Shore Waterfront, representing postcards to loved ones who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. The names and birthdates of 274 residents of Staten Island are engraved on granite plaques, including one who was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Also included are silhouettes of all the victims which, along with the centerline of the memorial, face the former site of the Twin Towers. It’s a deeply moving memorial and a sacred site, especially for the families who were never able to recover their loved ones’ remains.
Tribute in Light – NYC
This art installation was first unveiled six months after 9/11 and has been lighting the night sky every year since then on the anniversary of the tragedy. Two pure beams of light extend straight up for four miles, comprised of 88 high-power bulbs set in two squares patterned after the shape of the Twin Towers. It’s a visual reminder of all that was lost, which can be seen for sixty miles around lower Manhattan. The best place to view the tribute is from Memorial Plaza which is open to the public until midnight for this annual event.
Citizens from 78 different countries died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Whether you happen to be in New York City or on the other side of the planet this 9/11, it’s a time to reflect, remember, and set our sights on peace.