Nine years after Nine-Eleven
By Mitch Traphagen
In Washington, D.C., the Pentagon has long since been repaired. The work was done in the manner that is expected of the United States Military — quickly and with efficiency. The Pentagon Memorial stands resolute and solemn, a permanent and personal memorial to that event and the lives lost that day.
Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, work continues on a permanent national memorial for the passengers of Flight 93 who won the nation’s first battle in the war on terror. On Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush will join together at the western Pennsylvania site to mark the anniversary.
In New York City, years were spent deciding on how best to replace the World Trade Center and the site, known as Ground Zero, remained like an open wound on Lower Manhattan. In what seemed like a blink of the eye, all of that has changed. According to the site owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Ground Zero is rapidly transforming itself into a new rendering of the World Trade Center. Earlier this month, the first dozen of 400 Swamp White Oak trees were planted at the site as part of a permanent September 11 memorial named Reflecting Absence. Construction is well underway on the new 1,776 foot One World Trade Center building, already towering 36 floors into the sky. A memorial pool is nearing completion, with plans to have it open for the tenth anniversary next year, and work is also well underway on what will become one of the city’s largest transit stations. Seven stories beneath the ground, work has begun on what will someday be the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which will include the last column to remain standing from the twin towers.
Everywhere there is symbolism, from the “survivor’s stairway” that was salvaged from the original site that will be available for public use in the future, to the the height of One World Trade Center which reflects the nation’s year of independence. There is also a dramatic display of recovery. In addition to maintaining the memories, business will go on at the site as the four towers making up the World Trade Center rise from the ashes. There is respect and remembrance; but there is no air of defeat.
The city’s annual commemoration of the day involves reading the names of those who perished, along with a procession of family members into the pit that was known as Ground Zero. Today, nine years later, it is less a pit and more a resolute new beginning.