In honor of MLK day and the Inauguration, my family and I decided to take a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. As a New Yorker, born and bred, I can recall in great detail where I was during the terrorist attack that changed the world forever. I never set foot anywhere near the 9/11 site until yesterday.

The experience was both beautiful and somber. I decided to share it.

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The site itself requires a reservation. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can make reservations an hour before you want to visit. www.911memorial.org. They ask you to make a donation. The suggested donation is $10, but you can donate what you like, yes, even $1. Once you make your donation, you can either print your tickets at home or pick up your passes at the memorial site.

Once you have your passes, you make your way to the memorial site. Be warned. The security process is more thorough than the air port. its crazy. Pack light. Wear comfortable shoes. 

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After being cleared by security, we had to flash our admission tickets several times (so keep them handy). And what felt like mazes later, we found ourselves in the site. Immediately my mood changed. On this amazing day, MLK Day, Inauguration Day, Monday, I entered this footprint that used to be the world trade center.

The sound of the waterfall is peaceful. The atmosphere somber. My first instinct was to walk to the fountain and touch the names. Names. People.

It was humbling.

Sure, there are people there with their families smiling and taking pictures with the giant buildings in the background. While I did take photos, I didn’t feel compelled to take pics in that jolly old way. It just didn’t feel right.

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Surrounding the memorial site are several works in progress that will one day complete the entire site. Standing in the center of the memorial site looking around put the amount of restoration still needed for Lower Manhattan. Its unbelievable. Seeing it live and in person puts it into perspective.

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While walking around, I spotted my father’s name. He was standing right beside me, because he made it home safely on 9/11 and looked at his name etched in the wall in complete awe. I touched the name feeling grateful, and sorrow. Someone’s son. Father. friend. Lover. I am so blessed.

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A shocker to see. Sure. But also seeing names of women followed by “and her unborn child” really blew my mind.

Overall, this was quite an experience. It was something that I didn’t think I needed to do because I lived my own watching this unfold on that very day. But visiting made it real.

I recommend it. If only for a moment to reflect and appreciate all of the things we take for granted. I even spotted a woman putting a rose on the name of a friend of hers. It was the victims birthday. How beautiful.

I am so in love with my City. I am so in love with this country. We are so strong. If you make a trip to NYC, for a small donation, this will put things into perspective.

God Bless America.

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