I bought tickets to tour the 9/11 Museum and One World Trade Center this morning, but the museum was such an overwhelming experience that I could only wander around aimlessly afterward. You look at the photographs again and watch the videos and hear the stories and see what's left behind, and then you walk out onto these streets and you can't even imagine. I don't wonder that most New Yorkers stay away: if I had been here that day I would never go back. But all I kept thinking through the whole tour was "be a better person." It was staggering.
It's hard to know how to respond to all the commotion around the memorial itself, though, which is composed of deep cascading pools laid into the footprint of each tower. There are signs up along the perimeter reminding people it's a space for reflection, but the mood there...wasn't that. It was mostly tourists, as expected, and people treated it like another tourist attraction: posing for family photos and selfies, chasing kids around, laughing, and it's surrounded by shopping malls and train stations and a million horns honking, but maybe that's all a piece of what makes it sacred. It's a living place of remembrance dug deep into the bones of the city.