At the 9/11 Memorial

Some loved ones left flowers and some left miniature flags. People flock, read the names that were carved on the long dark bronze blocks and pay their respect. But no matter how many people visit and congregate around the twin giant pools that used to be where World Trade Center buildings or twin towers were, it always feel somber and subdued there. The first time I came to the site of Ground Zero was 6 years after the 9/11 tragedy happened. My parents were visiting from Indonesia and we took them there. There’s still nothing interesting to see but covered wire fences. There were a lot of works happening behind them. The sound from the heavy machineries, the banging of metals and the buzzing from the construction workers all mixed as proof that life still goes on. I felt humble being at the Ground Zero, because a couple years before 2001 I was there staring at the two towers with astonishment of the tallest buildings in the country. My husband and I passed by the area where World Trade Center was for several times when we headed towards Brooklyn. I would open the car window and look at WTC buildings enthusiastically while we passed the lower Manhattan. Who would’ve known that one day those magnificent buildings would be gone.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up on our bed with our oldest daughter who was 2 years old and our baby girl who was 4 months old. They were still asleep soundly and peacefully without any care in the world. I turned on the TV and watched the morning show on NBC, the Today Show. It was sometime after 8AM suddenly Katie Couric, one of the presenters on the show, announced a distressing news: an airplane has crashed into one of the twin towers. I was stunned. But I thought maybe it was an accident until I saw from the live feed another plane flew directly towards the other tower. What has happened? Then, in minutes everything crumbled and fell. Katie Couric was heard crying on air and I had trouble believing what I had saw. My eyes welled up, tears ran down because I imagined the chaos that ensued. I held my daughters closer and I could feel something in the atmosphere was brewing, fear. 

It has been 18 years since the most despicable tragedy I’ve ever witnessed, happened. I can still feel the uneasy feeling when September 11th is approaching. The site where Ground Zero was, now a sprawling park with memorial for the fallen and a museum to commemorate the lost. In November 2017, I took a group of high school students from Indonesia and their teacher to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. It was the first time I visited the place and I became rather emotional especially when I read the names of the people who perished during the tragedy. My fingers sometime ran through the carved letters on the bronze blocks while I listened to the sound of the man-made waterfall, said to be the greatest in United States. In April this year, I visited the plaza again and that time I was escorting an old friend and his colleagues who were curious about the 9/11 Memorial. They were astounded and again, I somehow lost with emotion when I read a name, a woman’s, with additional statement “and her unborn child”. 

(To all who perished and the first responders, may you rest in peace).

Holiday Season, NYC Style

By the time Thanksgiving is over, New York City will be ready to display the festivity of holiday season. There will be more lights, wonderful window displays and amazing store decorations; seasonal events such as ice skating rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center and my favorite is the winter market at Bryant Park. Of all the many wonderful things to see in New York City during holiday season, the window displays from the city’s top stores are the ones that are most breathtaking. Each store competes to show the astonishing display of themes on its windows. People will be wowed by the ranging of themes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and many other upscale stores. They can be whimsical, full of fantasy, imaginative, depiction of stories that are popular like A Christmas Carol, Mother Goose, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and so on. Those themes are truly work of art!

When you decide to visit New York City during holiday season, be prepared to encounter a lot of people, more than usual. There will be crowd almost everywhere! Wear sensible and comfortable shoes, bundle-up warmly, cause you’re going to take lots and lots of walk. Your main attractions will be mostly along Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has musical light show that covers its entire building. It is simply amazing! Young and old would gather across the store and waiting for the show to begin every 10 minutes. Across Saks Fifth Avenue is another attraction that has been showed on popular movies about Christmas, such as Home Alone: Lost in New York, which is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The tree, the ice skating rink and the displays around the Rockefeller Center are another wonderful sights to see. You might also browsing the winter market at Bryant Park that has many local artists showing and selling their artworks. Not too mention, another ice skating rink, which is heated, and I think is more romantic than the one at Rockefeller. People can buy some hot cocoa or coffee and have varieties of munchies, sit on one of the park metal chairs and see people ice skating or just relaxing with loved ones. The market is also the best place to get presents for any occasion or souvenirs, if you’re a tourist. So, let me show you how New York City celebrates holiday season. You’ll be amazed for sure!

 

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