BY BRITTANY, GRADE 12
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is not just a museum, or even just an homage to the tragedy, it is an unearthly experience that allows one to relive that day even if they weren't present or alive when it took place.
When learning about September 11, 2001 in school, there's a lack of translation between facts and the emotions of people on the planes, in the towers, and the Pentagon.
No amount of knowledge on the dates and times and statistics can truly prepare one for listening to a husband call his wife and leave a goodbye message telling her he loves her knowing it's the end. The museum humanizes 9/11 until it's physically unbearable to hold one's emotion in.
When walking through the museum itself, it is incredibly dark and disconcerting. The discomfort one feels is meant to simulate the discomfort felt by those who were stuck in the towers and the Pentagon, stuck in a dark, smoky maze desperately searching for a light to guide them to safety. It also acts as an overarching allusion to the chaos and confusion that followed directly after the attacks.
After physically walking through the day by walking further through the museum one learns about the events by mainly listening to first hand accounts of those in the buildings. One feels emotionally attached to the victims crying in recordings, accounting their terrifying reality on that day.
The intensity of the light begins to increase as one walks further into the museum. By the time one has reached the end the lights are turned up fully and everyone is faced with the aftermath. This was the buildup. The entirety of one's journey comes down to these moments, watching the terrorists pass through airport check-ins, seeing how the world reacted to one of the largest and most devastating terror attacks, and searching through the aftermath like debris to find a silver lining or a better future.
The point of the 9/11 memorial museum isn't to make one relive the day or even teach people about what happened, it is to honor those who lost their lives by instilling empathy in a new generation of legislators and government officials. A deep understanding of what happened on 9/11 and how many lives it affected puts into perspective how, if it took just a few men with passports and plane tickets to incite fear in an entire nation imagine how much good one person is capable of creating in the world.