The faces are different, the stories profound, but each time I look at them I cannot pretend. I tell my story as part of the tour but in each face I see, I see the ones that have been killed, the ones that survived and the ones that to this day cannot bear to speak of that day. Their memories haunt them. It’s because of this that I do what I do at The Tribute Center.
I begin my tour as a support as the lead leads the group on a walking tour to show the horrific site that was once the world’s two front teeth. I face the windows she points to and become mesmerized at the details she carefully shares with each interested listener. With each name she announces their facies come to life for me. My heart is heavy.
When it becomes my turn to share my person to person history, I do not know what to say. I only know that my story taugtht me about hope, and faith and helping others. How can any of these people relate to my story ,but tell it I do if only because maybe just maybe they might be inspired by something I say. All I see are tears, sad faces, surprised looks and I wonder if I should go on with my story. But I push myself as I have to honor all those that were murdered and all those that came home.
I tell my story and decide to make eye-contact with each person, maybe then I can find the face that will turn to me and listen with intent to my story. They all do. There is no pressure to tell my story, just to share a part of it, if I choose to. I have a willing audience. Will my story make a difference?
I tell them how my day had started. I start out with a normal routine. My husband then called and with that phone call my life for the first time was changing. I would know fear, and fear of the unknown. I would pray more than I ever prayed in my life. I held my daughter’s hand more than I ever did in her short life. I felt all these emotions for over 10 hours until he walked in covered in soot. Happily and with much gratefullness, we all held him, hugged him and then realized the we too were covered in this soot as well. He immidiately went to take a shower and we put his clothes in the wash. We couldn’t stop hovering over him. He was alive. After the devastation we sat and watch all day long, we believed for hours, that he might be dead. And here he was coming home to us.
When he announced that he would be going back, we selfishly kept him to ourselves. That only lasted for a few minutes as I realized that if he made his way back to us, he would be fine.
That is what inspired me to do something after the attacks.I volunteered to help the rescue workers at the respite center.
God saved my life weeks later and I knew that I had to do something more.
Three years passed by and I finally found the courage to volunteer at the Tribute Center where I could be amongst all those that were hurt and survived, the memory of those that were murdered and all those that lost a loved one. Slowly as I began to assist in the tours, I barely heard a word my group leader had said because for me I was walking the halls of a horrific tragedy, I was remembering the events of that day as they affected my life and my family’s life. It was so hard to go back to a day that so many in this world were a part of. A day of horror, fear, sadness and anger. I didn’t think I could do it until one day, when Leader Kimberly came on board. As she dedicated that tour to one of the little boys that were murdered that day on one of those planes, I knew then as I looked up that every day I did a tour, I would know the names of all those that passed. And each time I shared my story, they would be there watching how so many came to where they died to hear the true stories of all that happened but mostly to honor them.
Shivers went up my spine as I came to this conclusion. I chose to be one with each person there . The tours stopped becoming hard for me, instead they became 75 minutes of deep profound respect for my fellow man.
If you ever get to visit THE TRIBUTE CENTER , make it a point, to go and pay your respects. The gallery tours take you to the world they were in before they were killed. The walking tour shows where the devastation took place. But it also shows you the progress that is being made.
It is up to every one of us to take what we have learned from The Tribute Center and share with our loved ones what I know they want us all to know. Let’s keep the memory of September 11th alive. Not just for us, but for our children. We must all remember that on September 11, 2010, we experienced our own Pearl Harbor. And it is our responsibility to share this with our communities, our children and all those that think this day had come and gone. It lives on in the lives of all those that had their loved ones taken from them.
Go to the site. Go on the Tours. Do something in your community to honor all those that were killed that day.
We may have lived through this day but what we do now will hopefully spare our children and their children from experiencing what we did. Instead it will show they to make their community stronger, to work with each other and most of all to get along with each other regardless of who they are.