ZoeDoggy would like to present a guest blog from Elena Espriu, a friend of Jacklynn's. Our intent was to promote giving thanks in this Thanksgiving season for the liberties we enjoy and the heroes that fight to protect them. With the tragic events in Paris of November 13th, we find this guest blog is even more powerful.
As I walked around each memorial tower and looked at the names of the victims, I saw some names that were draped in white roses and I silently wished them a Happy Birthday with tears streaming down my cheeks.
On my memorial tour, the guide said that each memorial site of Tower 1 & 2 has a bottomless waterfall which symbolizes a void and emptiness which can never be filled with the loss of each loved one who was murdered on 9-11.
Adjacent to one of the Tower’s memorial sites, there is a special tree which is surrounded by a fence. One can immediately see, without any knowledge of the tree’s history, that this tree has truly experienced living. There are burn marks on the tree. What are the burn marks? The burns were sustained on 9-11 when this exact tree was knocked down, burned, and cut when the Towers came toppling down.
Like all trees at the Twin Towers, there was no life left in them. They were dead. Like all the victims that were above them inside of the Towers after they came
crashing down. Yet, this one particular tree had one remarkable thing on it that no other trees at the Towers had after the attacks. In the rubble, when this tree was dug up, it had one green leaf on it. One breadth of life still remained in this tree amongst the death that surrounded it. Someone from the crew saw the single living leaf on this tree. The tree was then sent to a special care facility to see if it could be saved.
Not only was this tree saved, it was returned to its home at the Twin Tower memorial site once it was fully healed. One can see its burns, its scars from a horrific day that no one in America alive on 9-11 can ever forget. Those scars are an eternal reminder of that tragic day, yet also a reminder that life goes on for all of us who are still here after 9-11. In that sense, we are all survivors. Trimmings from this tree are growing as we speak and eventually they will be planted. Life, re-birth, and moving forward, symbolize this special tree, and also serve as a reminder to never forget the tragic events that unfolded on 9-11-01.
My Tuesday museum visit consisted of 2 speakers at the “We Were There” presentation. The first speaker was the son of a fire fighter who was murdered on 9/11 at one of the Towers. This man said that when his father’s body was found, he was surrounded by 6 civilians, which meant this his father was in the midst of rescuing 6 people from the Towers when he took his last breath.
The firefighter’s son said with pride that his father died doing what he loved, helping people. The son also said that during the search and rescue of the rubble at the former Towers, rescue dogs had an especially difficult time.
Upon finding lifeless body after body, rescue dogs became very depressed. To help the dog’s psyche, teams set up ‘fake’ rescues. Different people buried themselves in the rubble, in order to be found and rescued by the dogs. This continuous exercise of finding living people, saved the psyche of the rescue dogs and allowed them to continue following their mission which sadly became a recovery only mission for 9-11 victims.
The other speaker that day is a detective and her job, even to this day, is to identify body parts from the rubble of the Towers and reunite those parts with family members. This vital mission continues to this day. The detective said her most recent DNA identification took place this past March, of 2015. The detective further explained that with ever evolving technological advancements, this is how she is able to still identify body parts, even 13 ½ years after the attacks. She firmly believes she will continue to identity body parts of 9-11 victims in the years to come and continue to bring peace and closure to family members.
These presentations were riveting. For these speakers and for many who were at Ground Zero, 9/11/01 is still very raw. It is a moment in time that they live with, they carry with them, and it is a day which is hauntingly embedded into the core of their heart and soul. That’s why speaking at “We Were There” events helps bring these people peace and healing.
I spent the entire day at the museum and memorial site and I must say I still feel like I did not have enough time there. The experience, the learning, the emotions that one feels after being surrounded by so much life, death, turmoil and anguish from victims, it simply is not enough to spend a day there. Your feet are touching the ground that was once a site of innovation of architecture from the erection of the Towers, a site of business and finance. A site of terrorist attacks, a site that led some people in floors above where the planes crashed into the Towers, to jump out of their windows as they realized they couldn’t escape the Towers through the stairs. A site of thousands of people in gut wrentching fear as they
lost their lives. A site of survivor’s and people uniting in an unbreakable bond by experiencing that trauma together.
So many emotions and moments have transpired on this soil, one day is not nearly enough to absorb it all. I hope every person will be able to have the opportunity to visit the 9-11 memorial site and truly grasp all of its beauty, sadness, life and death. There is so much to learn about the victims, the moments, the survivors, and even so much to learn about yourself as you experience so much about this sacred site and the sanctity of life itself.