The events of last weeks attack on Osama Bin Laden’s compound has offered some closure to the New York’s 9/11 saga, and in a somewhat timely fashion: in four months from today we will be honoring the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 at the completed memorial. On September 11th, 2011, you will find the footprints – known as Memorial Voids – where the twin towers once stood, surrounded by 30 foot waterfalls pouring down the inside—the tallest manmade waterfalls in the country. Surrounding each Memorial Void will be the names of the 2,986 victims of 9/11 and the 1993 bombing. Furthermore, all around the site there will be 400 sweet gum and white oak trees, creating a calm, tranquil atmosphere where one can contemplate the events that changed our world ten years ago. An estimated 4 million visitors will flock to the memorial in its first year.
I was just fourteen years old. I woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning that day, and it wasn’t just “any other day” as many refer to it. It was the primary elections for the mayor of New York! My father and I had been campaigning all summer for Mark Green. If Green had won, then my Dad would have probably become a deputy commisioner and NY’s First Family of Tour Guides would never have existed.
We were in the subway stations of downtown Brooklyn, and when we heard what had happened we ran down Flatbush Avenue, where we saw both the towers on fire and proceeded to the PC Richards by Atlantic Avenue to watch it on the news. Later that day, the most bizarre moment occurred; I saw ash fluttering down from the sky.
I was very fortunate. I barely knew anyone who lost anyone on that day. My cousin, who worked in the south tower, saw the first plane hit the north tower and immediately said to everyone on her floor, “Let’s leave”. She got home safely. I tell these stories to the thousands of clients I bring to the World Trade Center and it feels strange sharing all of this when there were so many who were so gravely affected. Why is my story even relevant?
Perhaps it’s my life-long Brooklyn born-and-bred status that gives me the right to educate people about what happened here. Maybe it’s my DCA sightseeing license that makes me qualified. Regardless, these people need to know what occurred on that day, and it’s my job, literally, to tell them. What I’m happy about, though, is that now I can show them what the future promises.
1 World Trade Center (formally known as the Freedom Tower) is only about sixty-five stories tall at the moment, but when it’s finished it will be 104 stories. At 1,776 feet, it will be the tallest building in North America. They say it’ll be occupied by the end of 2013. As for all seven buildings, they probably won’t be open and ready for business until 2020, but we’re not making promises. Catch is, they’re just office buildings. They’re places for people to work. The most important part, of course, is the memorial.
I never got to go to the World Trade Center. I never really remember seeing the towers before that terrible day. But standing at the site today, after circling it for the past five years, telling everything I know to people who want to listen, all of that may help to close the circle. And knowing that the face of global terrorism has been brought to a kind of justice brings us a little bit closer.
By Jonah Levy