Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Flight 93

We detoured, yesterday, from our drive to Washington DC, in order to visit the Flight 93 Memorial.

I recommend visiting in the late afternoon when the light is warm.

We had two phones, the car’s navigational system and a Garmin with us. Each provide different instructions. We ended up circling up and down and around the hills in which the memorial sits. It’s beautiful country but after about an hour of driving, always within 5 minutes of our destination, we were pretty frustrated.

Our first look at the Tower of Voices

Part of the problem is that there’s an old entrance that isn’t open anymore and some of our technical tools wanted to go there…and so we did. The other part of the problem is a distinct lack of signage for the new entrance.

Located on a small hill planted in wildflowers.

But eventually we made it, as the sun was starting to lower in a sky filled with big puffy grey and white clouds.

Eight columns holding the heavy chimes.

Our first stop was windchimes tower, dedicated to the 40 people on the plane that died September 11th, 2001 when the passengers put Flight 93 into the ground rather than allow themselves to be weapons aimed for the US Capitol.

There are 40 different wind chimes, each with a distinct sound.

The chimes are beautiful, but only play when the wind is at least 12 mph, and though it was getting breezy it wasn’t windy enough to hear more than one low tone.

Once in awhile there was a gust of wind.

Then we went on to the visitor center which is built into a huge concrete structure that draws you along that last flight path, and deposits you on a platform overlooking the final crash site of the plane.

Mapping the path of the plane.

It’s a beautiful field now, filled with wildflowers and birds. In the late afternoon light it glows.

The white is a tent left up after this week’s anniversary. The farm over on the hillside witnessed the crash.

We drove down to the lower area, and walked the pathway back to the wall of names. Along the way were some mementos in a space designed to collect them.

Lots of memories left on the wall.

The names etched into the wall were heartbreaking, as were the pictures there, and the flowers.

Always together, forever

We were visiting only three days after the 21st anniversary of the attack, so the flowers were freshly poignant.

We spent a long time wandering the grounds. It was so peaceful with hardly anyone else there.

Yet I couldn’t help but look back up at the visitor center, built along the flight path and imagine what it must have been like that day. What it sounded like, what it smelled like. What it looked like.

Also together forever.

There are photos, of course, of the aftermath. But I don’t think they convey the total horror that must have confronted the emergency workers when they arrived.

Hard to imagine this place as it must have been that day.

I imagine the field was a beautiful place before the plane dropped out of the sky.

Paying her respects.

And it’s a beautiful place again, a fitting tribute to the forty heroes of Flight 93.

Evening light comforts as another day slips away.

After I wrote this a friend provided a link to Sunday Morning’s piece on the Flight 93 National Memorial. It’s a short piece that will explain more about the tower and the site.


No new words

On a day like today, September 11, 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks on our country that killed so many innocents, you want to have something profound to say. Something that touches your readers, helps them process their own memories. Makes someone think. Provides hope.

But I find that I have no new words, and while in search of something to say I remembered my last visit to New York City when we visited the Freedom Tower.

So I invite you to click on this link which will take you back to a post written in 2016. My feelings about this place are still the same.

If you ever have the chance to visit NYC, please make time to spend at least a half day at the Freedom Tower. As our guide said back then, visiting is a sign of respect.

And couldn’t we all try a little harder to spread some respect these days.


Paying our respects at the Freedom Tower

Pools and names.

Pools and names.

There are no words adequate to describe the sheer size while looking up at the tower gleaming against the bright blue sky. No words to describe the deep emotion running through a crowd that stands mostly silent around the perimeter of the two pools ringed with names of the nearly three thousand that died.

Reflecting somber thoughts.

Reflecting somber thoughts.

No words.

Each day memorial staff place white roses in the names of those victims who would have been celebrating birthdays. Their lives are remembered by their families still and now complete strangers linger to gently touch the letters of the names cut into the smooth stone. Showing respect. Honoring.

Imported Photos 00562

Inside the museum our tour guide provides detailed history. She is careful of our feelings, telling us it’s a difficult story to hear, to have experienced, to remember.

Fire truck.  Cab is destroyed.  All died.

Fire truck. Cab is destroyed. All died.

She reminds us that there are those among us that were not yet alive on that day and that it is important to tell the story. To not forget. To pass the lessons on.

Part of the antenna from atop one of the towers.

Part of the antenna from atop one of the towers.

In the great hall there stands the last piece of formative steel to be removed from the site. Taped to it are pictures of some of those that died, put there by the construction crews and city employees working on the cleanup. A makeshift memorial captured and preserved forever.

Back wall is the original footings of the tower.  Last formative steel removed covered in heartfelt graffiti.

Back wall is the original footings of the tower. Last formative steel removed covered in heartfelt graffiti.

A long wall is covered in tiles, each of the 2,996 a different shade of blue, no two alike, because each of the 2,996 victims was unique. Blue, because the sky on September 11, 2001 was the wonderful clear blue of a perfect autumn day.

"No day shall erase you from the memory

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” -Virgil

There are things inside the museum that are hard to see but important to remember. There is a room with photos of each of the victims. Photos lined up, from floor to ceiling, row after row of faces smiling, eyes looking back, stories to be told, memories captured.


But our guide reminds us that this memorial wasn’t built with hate. It was built with love. And that coming to visit is an act of love and respect and honor.

Old and new  can exist together in harmony.

Old and new can exist together in harmony.

So we swallow our tears and we promise to pass the story on to the next generation in hope and peace.

Wings of hope.

Wings of hope.

And then we move out of the museum and back onto the streets of New York City under a brilliant blue sky.

Never forget.

Never forget.