It's a Jewish tradition to visit a grave a month after the burial, and at least yearly on the death date. I'm not a practicing Jew, but many of "my people" died there and I felt a tribal obligation, if nothing else, to make a gesture to their memory.
I visited my native New York City on October 11th, 2011 and visited Ground Zero with a fellow poet. As we walked around the still-smoldering crime scene I found myself drawn not to the hole in the sky, nor in large part to the wreckage, but to the people who'd come, like me, to process this... this Kristallnacht of the American people.
Eleven years later the visit is still seared into memory. I'm almost afraid to visit the memorial site for fear it might displace my memories of that day. And the memories I have of visiting the Twin Towers as a boy, while the second tower was still under construction, to peek down it from the unsecured heights of the roof of the first tower.
Like that horrible night for Jews in World War II, 9/11 demarcates a tectonic shift in how we see ourselves in the world. Our positions on so many things changed. Holy vengance, unfettered violence, the lashings out of a child whose sense of security has been forever breached.
Below are a few photos of that trip, a few hours before the news of an anthrax attack at a television studio further stirred paranoia into the recesses of our cultural mind.
May the memory of those who died never be forgotten. And may see the fruits of peace, not the poison of endless conflict, grow from the 9/11 Memorial Gardens.