Before we entered the memorial site, we took the kids to the gift shop. They had scenes from that day playing on the wall, with stories from survivors. I was showing the girls a book about 9/11 so that they would maybe have an understanding about what happened - and as I came to a photo of one of the planes hitting the towers, I couldn't speak. The words stuck in my throat and tears rolled down my face. I managed to say "it was a sad day and a lot of people died because of a lot of bad men." Simplistic, yes. But the kids understood.
Standing at that fence 10 years ago I was unable to form any positive thought - it was as if every happy thought was sucked out of my body, replaced with a sense of grief and doom.
But today, in 2013, the area was full of life. There were tourists everywhere and people enjoying a beautiful summer day. And you could feel the sense of promise and change in the air.
Getting into the Memorial itself was a lot like going through security at the airport,which is sad considering the site. My niece had a good point - at all of the place in the world, wouldn't you think people would just KNOW better at this location? I suppose it's just the way of the world now.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we walked into the Memorial itself, maybe a quiet hush or a sense of solemnity.
What I found was a lot of people - talking, walking, laughing, taking photos - but many wore a look of uncertainty, as if to say "Is it REALLY OK to take a photo of my family here???"
The next time you find yourself in New York City, make it a point to travel to the 9/11 site and visit the memorial.
Touch the names, listen to the fountains, take some pictures, and just take it all in. You might not be able to explain it, but you'll leave the memorial feeling hopeful.
The 9/11 Memorial is a peaceful place and a true testament to the American spirit.
And we're better and stronger as a country.
We will never forget.