Hey, so it’s taken me forever to write “Day Two” of my visit to NYC. Not that I was lazy, I just hadn’t found the words to express the visit in the emotional way I would have loved too. I don’t even know if I will do it justice today. Like I had said earlier in the “Day 1” article, I’ve been to NYC a couple of times and having seen all the usual stuff, this visit was focused on experiencing New York and its people.
“Day 2” was very touristy. Zaina, my mum and I decided to visit the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which from now on we shall refer to as “wtc”. Ok so all dressed up, camera charged, face beat, we headed for the subway.
Like I mentioned in the first NYC post, we were staying in the Bronx. Contrary to popular belief, it is a decent neighborhood, totally livable (I mean, your steps away from the Yankees Stadium, what more do you want). But you know, it is “The Bronx” and every time you hear the Bronx it’s either JLo or something crazy. Where we lived was up a hill so while we’re slopping down to the subway, we hear fireworks, or at least that’s what I thought that was. Now, my mum, has been through the experience of war, at the time when Leaders in Uganda were fighting for power, so she knows a gunshot when she hears one.
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I turn around to ask my mum where the fireworks were and if we can go watch, and this chic is like in “war mode” already. The bag that she was holding in her hands all fancy was now in her armpit. I didn’t even get a second to ask again when some more “fireworks” went off. But this time em fireworks sounded more like an auto gun, so my mind starts thinking but gets interrupted by my mum who had already found a hiding spot (mind you she had never been to the Bronx) and was about to curse me out for still being on the street. At first I was thrilled and didn’t really think I was in that much danger, till the neighborhood kids started running and that’s when I realized that shit was for real, and I had to act quickly. So I start to run, where the people are running. Now remember my mum and Zaina are hiding, so my mum sees me running and screams at me to go hide with her. So here I was running in the opposite direction of people, up a hill, towards the shots firing to hide with my mum! Technically, my “Run to Safety” plan was a better plan, but the way my mum is set up, when she speaks…you do or you die…no questions asked.
The firing didn’t take too long, probably about 20 seconds. We never got to know what happened, probably a few crazy kids disagreeing and having unauthorized access to weapons and hopefully no one died. It took us another minute to get to the bottom of the hill and still no cops had showed up…Bronx for you! We took the subway and headed to wtc.
I did not even know what to expect when I got to wtc. I hadn’t looked it up, something I never do, probably because we’d just made the plan that morning. At the wtc, you’re welcomed by a big square shaped waterfall…two waterfalls actually, placed where the twin towers once stood. The water, goes, down below ground level and the viewing level has long metallic plates with the names of the victims that died on September 11 2001. It’s an interesting start to the tour. We then headed to the museum and lucky for us, we were only going to be in line for 20 minutes…lol.
Once you’re in, it’s all starts immediately. You start to see remains of the towers, built into the museum. What I loved so much from this tour is the set up. You start from the moment right before the attack, with pictures of the view of the towers early morning up to the point when the attack happened. Caution!!! If you plan on visiting soon, stop here because I have serious spoilers.
You start to walk through a dark corridor hearing voices of the reactions of people who were witnessing the attacks. The walls have projected writing in all languages that the people are speaking, other parts of the walls have pictures, showing people’s reactions to the attacks. Faces in shock, voices crying, you can feel the terror that was in people’s minds as you walk through. The corridor then opens up to a room with structures of the tower that were not destroyed to complete rubble. You get to see pillars that held the building. Each structure has a plaque describing where it once stood and a picture of what it looked like before. We get to see windows through which people jumped when the towers were hit and pillars that pierced through several floors high. We then took an escalator down all along reading and seeing images of how people made attempts to escape and how they managed to do so, although not all of them made it, because the towers collapsed.
Once we got to the basement, we were led to a showroom and here, strictly no cameras were allowed, so I had to pack up. Sadly, that is the most impressive part of the tour, and only when you visit physically, can you fully experience the emotion in the room and the experience of the attack. However for now, you’re just going to have to believe me. I promise not to lie.
This showroom, mainly focuses on the after-math of the attacks, reactions, investigations, evidence and hope from the happenings. The tour starts off with a few more structures of the towers and fire trucks that were used in rescue. We then started to hear audios of the victims that were in the plane, and the phone calls they made to their loved ones. A terrified air hostess making a call, “I can see buildings, we are really low” she said through tears. A gentleman called his wife, but caught the voicemail, told her the plane had been possibly hijacked and hopefully he will see her soon, but if he doesn’t, he loves her and she should take good care of the kids. There so many devastating audios, I was holding back tears.
There is a video of a construction worker who was probably on the job and a camera at his feet was facing up at the view, when the plane crashed through the first tower. It all happened so fast. There are more videos like this, showing the attack from different angles and finally what was left, seen melting to the ground.
Evidence. Engraved in a glass block was a letter showing the hijackers applying to a flight school right here in the states wanting to learn how to fly a plane and inquiring about the tuition costs. There were more letters written in the course of the planning and videos of the hijackers checking into the plane. These people started planning this attack one and a half years before it happened.
What I didn’t know about September 11 and I apologize for my ignorance, is that there were four attacks! I just thought it was the twin towers. I was only 11yrs at the time so I only caught the main story. I also didn’t know that these planes were flying locally. Two American Airlines planes from Boston hit the twin towers, another AA plane from Virginia hit the pentagon and the fourth, a United Airlines plane from New Jersey, was targeting Washington DC but crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
There was an electronic board in the exhibition that took you through the timing of the events, starting a few seconds before the initiation of the attacks, the departure of each of the flights, the exact time they were hijacked and turned around towards their targets. It’s a lot more impressive than I even make it sound. This was then followed by little remembrances of flowers, teddy-bears and cards placed around the rubble, probably by loved ones of the victims. The tour then proceeded to show steps taken by the US government to serve Justice, arrests of the suspects and President Obama with his team on the night that Osama Bin Laden was captured. The tour was then concluded with Organizations that were set up after 9/11 to assist families of victims. Organizations all over the world were opened up including one from my homeland, Uganda. I must have read their section over three times, but I still did not get what exactly it is they contributed, all I remember is catching something about psychology and counselling. (But why would victims’ families need counselling all the way in Uganda in Kitgum district?) I must have been super exhausted cos I didn’t get it, but it must be important or it wouldn’t be in the museum, better yet the no photography section. The tour finally came to an end with messages of hope and peace and love from people all over the world.
I remember entering this museum and thinking, “What could they possibly show me that I didn’t already know”. If your that kind of person too, I can guarantee you, there is something in that Museum that even the chief investigator of the attacks, would have learned that they didn’t know about. It’s not just about seeing exhibits and exclusive images and videos. It’s the way they create the emotion around you. You get to feel frightened, fearful, pain, sadness, you’re hearing phone calls, and you’re seeing people crying, television stations breaking the news to the world, and all the reactions. Everything is all in one place and it’s so real. I might have told you everything I saw, but there is no depth of words that can truly describe the experience you get when visiting the museum. You have to see it for yourself. I promise you will not regret it. I remember exiting the museum thinking the United States, is one of the countries that has been through trying moments, but what’s admirable is how its people come out stronger than ever, more hopeful and determined to build a better, more peaceful nation. That is definitely some positivity that a lot of nations could use.
My team and I left feeling a little emotional and what better way to rub off sadness than go shopping. Century 21 it was! I never really figured where to place that store. It seemed to have a little TJ-Maxx, a bit of Macys and Nordstrom when it came to their products. You would get into an aisle with bags and the first bag you look at costs $30 then the one next to it costs $650….Like??? We quickly went through and I got some gorgeous earrings that I am totally saving for a very special day because they are unique like that. We then hit up Herald Square where I shopped as though I owned a Fortune 500 company.
We headed back the Bronx around 6pm, and made Leilah jealous for not coming to the 9/11 memorial, then re-lived the shootout to her (my mum’s version was out of this world I felt like she got some scenes from the 9/11 museum and added them in our shootout). Day three was all about heading back to New Jersey and catching a flight back to Houston.
I can’t wait for my next trip to NYC, soon hopefully and this time, who knows…maybe I’ll stay in Harlem, go watch Broadway, or attend a screening of the Wendy Williams Show lololol only the future will tell.
If you’ve made it all the way here, I love you for reading…!