We remember where we were, the images on television, the accounting for friends and family who live in New York City. My sisters and I frantically called each other to learn about my brother-in-law. He was in Lower Manhattan on business. After sixty minutes, he called home from a post office where cops had ushered pedestrians inside as the sky rained debris. He witnessed the second plane hitting the tower.
Thousands of families lost loved ones to the reigning terror of hate. People who worked hard to provide a life for their families, for themselves, were suddenly lost to madness. Cops, fire fighters, investment professionals, service workers, a priest who rushed in to help - his lifeless body carried out by first responders. Lovely people, gone.
In the months following, victims’ families found each other, sharing anguish, telling stories. The families gathered in a room with a view, in a spartan office space at a 54-story tower: 1 Liberty Plaza, twenty stories above Ground Zero. While cleanup workers and tourists moved frantically below, the unnoticed Family Room evolved into sacred space. People brought their unfathomable pain, artifacts representing loved ones and their stories. The unplanned space became a sanctuary of grief and hope.
This summer the Family Room was replaced with a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The artifacts from the original room were offered back to families. Some people reclaimed the items while others donated their holy objects to the New York State Museum in Albany.
The exhibit – honoring 1,000 victims – is the most singular collection of the faces of those who died that day. One item, a pair of wire-rimmed eyeglasses, has an accompanying note: “So you can see in heaven.”
September 11. A day we can see on Earth that love transcends all evil, love cannot be destroyed.
(S-R photo: A woman places a hand on the names engraved along the South reflecting pool at the Ground Zero memorial site. )