A Tale of 2 Museums

In Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities there is injustice, terror, death, love and sacrifice. The two museums, Jewish Holocaust and 9/11, that we saw on a rainy day in New York carry the same stories. I spent a lot of time thinking about how and if I should write about the museums. I considered simply deleting the photos and moving on to the Brooklyn Bridge and School of Rock on Broadway and the sunny days in the remainder of our visit. (Who wants to hear sad rainy day stories in a travelogue?) I was going to do just that until I was safely on an airplane from Newark to Vancouver listening to the routine boring safety speech when it hit me. The passengers on those ill-fated 9/11 planes would have heard the same boring safety speech and many of them were probably feeling like me: get the speech over so I can watch my movie and anticipate going to my destination. From that scenario my mind shifted to imagining the indescribable horror of being inches from a tower knowing that you’re going to die….

Well, I cannot forget the mixture of sorrow, grief, terror and relief that I felt in that moment. Their stories must be told. If you might be triggered by these stories and want to wait for the sunnier posts, I understand!

Where the original twin towers stood are now two fountains dedicated to the emergency responders who gave their lives saving others. I am glad that the developers listened to the protests of grieving loved ones and moved their building location. The fountains created an atmosphere of tranquility and somber awe.

One of the few artifacts that I was allowed to photograph inside the museum.

The mangled metal describes more than words can say. A friend in NY accompanied us. “I find it hard to be here,” she said. “I become aware of the sheer amount of hatred that it took to do an act like this.”

A glimmer of hope and reassurance from a wall. A wall that stood firm and held back would-be devastating flood waters from the Hudson River.

New York grievers wrote their memorials on this beam. In the midst of sorrow there was community and honour.

When Forest went to New York in 2005 the fountains and museum had not been built yet. This iron cross stood alone at ground zero.

That was all that I was allowed to photograph. The pictures and sounds that remain in my mind is the goods from a shop behind glass covered with original dust. Voice messages between the airline passengers and their loved ones saying good bye or giving reassurances. After the two towers were struck an interesting conversation happened between a passenger on a third plane and his mom. I think we’re being hijacked he said on the phone. She replied with voicemails urging him to take action because the hijackers were on a suicide mission. The passengers did take action and the plane crashed into a field instead of another building. The plane was assumed to be headed for the capitol building in Washington.

More pictures included Missing person posters from hopeful families looking for survivors. Pentagon employees covered with dust crying out for help.

It was hard for me to breathe. My chest felt like lead. This was in my lifetime not distant history.

I remember a Tuesday morning in grade 11 when the announcement was made on the PA and for the rest of the day students and staff crowded into the library to watch CNN. No one learned anything in class. We just went through the motions. I remember watching the news lips and thinking that’s not real. It looks CG. Some sort of prank. It wasn’t until I heard testimonies from Manhattan that the news really sunk in.

Earlier in the day we this museum:

A living memorial to the Holocaust. Years of history makes a difference in impact. I am sad to say that I have been desensitized by seeing so many holocaust movies and pictures. I didn’t realize this until I responded differently at the 9/11 museum. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t just history books. It was my grandparents’ lifetime just as 9/11 happened in mine.

Newly married couples and musicians.

Hope to carry on.

Children. “They no longer beg for bread but for death”.

These faces and names. At the time it was just an interesting photo now it hits me. Real people.

The nazis were planning on putting the Torah in a museum as an artifact of the extinct Jewish race. How delightfully ironic that it is instead in a museum created by a thriving Jewish community.

In the shame of inaction Denmark stands out. It is easy to point fingers at the Allies back then but how much goes on today that is unnoticed and not even reported? Never mind no action.

I love this picture.

There was a happy ending for many. Just as the firefighters and other first responders gave their lives during 9/11 many non Jews gave their lives to save lives and bring the Jews to freedom. Other Jews survived the camps and persevered until the war was finally ended.

To say that I feel deeply humbled and grateful for my safety and freedom is an understatement. My plane landed safely in Vancouver and the Canadian government is not seeking me out in order to eliminate me.

Just for a moment, hopefully longer, I choose to take a break from the daily annoyances and be grateful.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What is the purpose of my life? What should I do?

Say thank you.

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