what to know before you go to the 9/11 Memorial

They say everyone remembers where they were on September 11th, 2001. I was living in England, at a Girl Scout meeting after school with some of my closest childhood friends. Everyone in New York was waking up to breaking news. I remember the military base we were stationed at going on lock down and my dad not allowed to come home for days. 

That was nearly 16 years ago.

For those that read this post, you might remember how the 9/11 Memorial didn't make the list. That was simply because it isn't an experience to be had on a list with the likes of yoga in the park. The memorial is seriously emotional from start to finish. The museum holds crucial parts of recent history that should be honored, respected, and never forgotten. Here is information you may need before you go and why I think it's important you do.  

What you should know ahead of time //

Dark tourism etiquette // I have a lot of thoughts on 'dark tourism' {i.e. Auschwitz, mass graves, Chernobyl, etc.}. Taking photos of yourself in places associated with mass death and suffering is something I find distasteful, to say the least. Why do you need a selfie in front of the 9/11 memorial? Blog or no blog, I just cannot understand it. Please be respectful. Please put your selfie sticks away. Use a quiet voice inside {this means kids too, if you bring any with you}. Think less about your Instagram gallery and more about genuine reasons you should be visiting such places-- to learn, pay respect, and gain a deeper understanding. There is a great article by National Geographic here with more eloquent thoughts on the subject. 

Time // The museum takes approximately 2 hours to experience, however it is easy to go over time if you read all the plaques like I like to. The late tour {7 p.m.} is less crowded, but you will need to watch your time. 

Ticketing // You can purchase advance tickets online, which I highly recommend for those visiting during peak tourist season. Bring your confirmation e-mail with you and collect your printed tickets at Will Call upon arrival. Tickets start at $26 and absolutely worth more than that. Discounts are available for students, Active/Retired military personnel, first responders, NYPD, youth, and seniors. 

Why it's important you go //

Understanding history // September 11th, 2001, like any major tragedy, seemed to touch and affect everyone. The whole world watched as the biggest terrorist attack in American history took place on an early Tuesday morning. It changed airport security. It catalyzed the longest war in American history, which some call my generation's Vietnam. It took nearly 3,000 lives and injured another 6,000. That doesn't include the health issues incurred by hundreds via toxic debris, businesses lost in rubble, and the catastrophic economic damage. This horrific event is part of New York City's history, as well as the world's. 

Understanding impact // The complex 'relationship' between the Middle East and the United States is explained, from the American perspective, at the end of the museum. It details the rise of Al-Qaeda, potential motives for the unjust attacks on 9/11, how these strategic hijackings were planned, and domestic reactions to the day's events. All of this information culminates for a deeper understanding of the political climate today and other social impacts {like a sharp increase in hate crimes}. 

The museum does a very good job at presenting a timeline and history without playing on hate or fear. Maintaining that balance is a fine line, especially in such an emotional setting. Each time I have been, I've cried and left feeling a bit shaken. More than that though, upon each visit I've been reminded of a dark day in history, still young enough for me to have lived through it, when the country of my birth came together to help and heal on a united front. If only for a brief moment. How our love finally showed through the other side of hate. Something we seem to have misplaced.