At the 9/11 Temporary Memorial

So many gods, so many creeds

So many paths that wind and wind

While just the art of being kind

Is all this sad world needs


We recently visited the temporary 9/11 Memorial in New York City and were haunted by what we saw there. Across the street they are building the permanent memorial and you can sometimes hear the sounds of construction.

A few minutes earlier we had been in the small church a block away from the World Trade Center buildings that had acted as the first trauma center, helping victims find medical help. It had been partly covered in debris from the collapse of the buildings, debris that took almost a year to completely clean up.

Here in the memorial are twisted beams and recovered shoes and combs and other personal items (including cell phones). In the basement is a bulletin board where the staff posts the comments of visitors from many lands who visit the memorial. Among the comments I found the above poem and copied it down. I don’t know who wrote it but it carries a brief but powerful message that resonated with me. It is a poem I wish I had written.

We will long remember the event, but unless we stand in that place and feel what the victims must have experienced, we have missed the most important part. We don’t have to hate each other. We will never all agree on anything, but we can agree to respect each other’s lives and grant each other the choices that God grants to all of us. Until that happens, we will continue to hurt and be hurt.

2 Responses to “At the 9/11 Temporary Memorial”

  1. 1 V.V. Denman October 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve never wanted to visit New York City, but you make me want to visit the Memorial. So many memories. So many people. So much pain.

    • 2 Hal C Clark October 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      New York City, or any big city, is not my favorite place either. But the fact is, there are some places you just have to go to get a feeling for what happened on that historic day. There is something tangible about a site like that, like something remaining of the energy of the event that you have to stand and soak up. I have been to several places like that and the experience stays with me. Thanks for your comment.

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