I spent the weekend in New York City at my friend’s bachelor party. We experienced four days of pounding beers, hitting the clubs, eating at the best restaurants, and busting each other’s balls. It was a true New York experience, and not something this 30 year old dad can handle on a daily basis – still recovering from a lack of sleep and excess toxins in my liver.
One activity that was not on the bachelor’s agenda was visiting Ground Zero. I convinced the boys to take some time after the Conor Oberst concert in Battery Park to wander over and make a pilgrimage of sorts to the spot where the two towers stood. I don’t know why I felt the compulsion to visit these sites, but for me, it was important to complete the circle that I started in Shanksville (see previous post).
The bachelor had warned me that there’s nothing to see at Ground Zero, but the empty space almost spoke more to me than any memorial ever could. Where once stood two massive towers filled with people, now sits a vacant lot with cranes at each corner that seemed to be more for show than actual progress.
Once again, I was concerned that I would encounter “truthers”, those conspiracy theorists who stubbornly believe that 9/11 was an inside job, but I was relieved that they were nowhere to be found. Maybe they were taking a break over the holiday, or maybe they’ve stopped preaching nonsense, but again, the negative space left in the vacuum of their presence was a welcome surprise.
I was bothered by the other tourists. They didn’t know what to do when they visited Ground Zero, so they just started posing for pictures in front of the empty space. There’s something interminably depressing about seeing a family from Oklahoma grinning, in all their white bread glory, in front of a site where purposeful devastation and destruction took thousands of lives.
It’s easy to forget the raw emotions we collectively felt in the days after those planes crashed into their innocent targets. Often, those memories are justifiably set aside so that life can continue forth without mourning into perpetuity. Some day, we’ll replace the emptiness and neutral emotions left in the wake of our post 9/11 rage, but for now, pilgrims to Ground Zero are left with nothing.
I’m OK with that.