A friend of mine recently travel from Florida to New York City to represent his company at a trade show. He had a few hours each afternoon for sightseeing and at the top of his wish list for the trip was a visit to the 911 Memorial and the World Trade Center.
This was an important visit for him and he didn’t want to get lost, so he ask the concierge at his Times Square hotel for directions on how to catch the subway to the memorial. He had read that this was the most cost-effective and fastest way to get there. He had very clear instructions. Get on the train at this station on the corner. Get off the train at that station and the memorial will be right there. Badda-bing, badda-boom! Nothing could be simpler. Right? Wrong!!
The problem began when the concierge didn’t say which exit to take out of the station. Our friend apparently took the wrong one. The memorial was not right there. The GPS on his phone seemed very confused and could not tell where he was. He zoomed in. He zoomed out. He thought he found himself on the map and knew which way to walk. Five blocks later he realized he was wrong. He found the Freedom Tower, took a left, walk around some construction sites, and finally found the memorial.
The Solemn Stillness
There were two-hundred-year-old buildings, hundred-year-old buildings, art deco buildings, modern buildings, the four-year-old Freedom Tower, the sparkling white dove-like Oculus, and construction sites of various types. All that was filled with activity and noise but where my friend stood all seemed hushed. There were dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people in that park but all were very quiet, if not silent. It felt like visiting a loved one at a cemetery.
He walked up to the first of two reflecting pools which are dedicated to the more than 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001, and the previous attack on the same towers in 1993. Reading the names engraved in the enormous bronze panels which frame these huge pools surrounded by manmade waterfalls wrenched his heart. There were men and women, as well as women with unborn children represented there. As he rounded the second pool he recognized that there were workers in the Twin Towers, employees of the Pentagon, passengers on all four airplanes involved, as well as fire-fighters, police officers, and brave soldiers who knowingly rushed into harms way to try to save anybody they could, all named here.
That’s the part that really got to him. He was lucky all those years ago. His loved ones didn’t disappear that day, like these thousands of people. Visitors could tell the ones recently visited by their loved ones because they had a rose tucked into their name.
Walking through the park he noticed some signs. These signs included rules for the memorial park. We live in a country where free speech is a prized right, but in this park, there will be no demonstrations. There will be no fireworks. There will be no game playing, loud noise making, smoking, sleeping, or loitering. There is a long list of rules, basically teaching people how to treat this place with the solemnity that it deserves. It seems a little sad that the signs had to be posted, but it’s good they were there.
Heading Back to the Hotel
My friend’s time was up, and he needed to get back to Times Square so he endeavored to find the subway station. He broke out his phone again and gave the GPS another try. There it was, right by the memorial, like the concierge had said. He took a quick and brief detour to look more closely at St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity Parish which was spared damage even though it is just a couple blocks away from the twin towers. Opened in 1766 and attended by George Washington at one point, this old building was miraculously protected from flying debris. What an inspiring way to close out a visit to the memorial.
This was not the end of the adventure however! He soon concluded that Charlie Brown’s teacher does all the most important announcements for the New York City subway system. As he stood on the platform waiting for the E train which would take him directly to his hotel he heard, “The E train has been diverted at wa-wa-wa-wa-wa. Take the C train to wa-wa-wa and wa-wa-wa-wa-wa.” Then all the people standing with him on the platform ran away. Was this an effort to sort out all the tourists? Who knows, but it seemed that the five people left there were all in the same boat, … visitors from out of town, without a clue of where to go now or what to do.
My friend’s a smart guy. He could figure this out. Right? Sure! Why not? Earlier he had seen that the E train and the C train ran on the same track for most of the trip back to his hotel. The E train just made a right turn at 50th and the C train passed Central Park and moved on to parts unknown. He could just hop off before that street and grab an E train to the hotel. What could go wrong? He was not so naïve. He was concerned.
He found the stairs to the C train’s platform. He climbed aboard the already loaded subway car and inched through Manhattan. Nervously he watched the stops go by. He watched trains wiz past in the opposite direction. “Was that an E train? Should I get off and try to switch? What station are we at anyway?” These questions ran through his mind again and again. When he had his fill of being flung back and forth by the inertia of the starting and stopping train he got off. It was possibly 14th street.
In a surprising act of vulnerability, our friend approached a transit authority employee on the platform. “Get in the train! The train won’t move till you get out the way! Get on the train and let the door close!” She was yelling at inattentive passengers on that C train he just left. Then she turned to him with a smile and said, “You’re never lost when you’re in New York City Honey! Where you tryin’ to go?”
She gave him clear instructions to get to the E train’s platform and sent him happily on his way. He followed her instructions, then shortly an E train rolled up right in front of him. As promised it delivered him right to his hotel. Okay, so it was actually an underground station across the street from his hotel and he had to climb ANOTHER flight of stairs, but he was “home.” That’s all that mattered at that point.
Travel God's World
God's world is so beautiful! There is so much to explore! I love to travel and learn so much when I travel. That's why I created the Travel God's World series. With curriculum, unit studies, and a cookbook, you can travel the world right from your family room. To check out our resources below, simply click on the photos below. Our resources are available in print and as E-books. However, don't just travel in your family room and kitchen, make your travel bucket list and get out there to see the world!
God bless you and keep your safe as you travel.