The Times has a harrowing account of the 9/11 museum at Ground Zero. This quotation at the end of the article really struck me.
“One hundred years from now, no one will be alive who remembers 9/11,” Mr. Davis said. “The story has to tell itself.”
On September 11, 2011, I was 17 years old (my birthday is August 13). While I hope to be alive in 100 years (and due to advances in nanotechnology, that is possible), I realize that I am probably going to be among the last generation alive, who was old enough to appreciate first-hand what happened in New York City on 9/11. I remember seeing the plumes of smoke billowing from the ground. I remember smelling ash in the air the morning after. I remember the tears of my friends who realized their loved ones were trapped, and could do nothing. I remember panicking whenever I saw an airplane low in the sky (this went on for weeks). It was surreal. But, they are only memories.
I have recorded my account for posterity here (and reposted it every year), but in a century, all we will have are recorded accounts.
This is inevitable. There are very few WW I veterans with us (Update: They are all gone. The last one died in 2012). The numbers of WW II veterans, and Holocaust survivors are dwindling.
I visited Ground Zero last year for the first time, and it was a very emotional experience, even 11 years removed (my account is here). My father worked across the street from the World Trade Center (he was not at his office on 9/11), and I had visited there countless times. It is still difficult for me to conceptualize that those buildings aren’t there, even though I know so well what happened. From the Staten Island ferry, the view of the Skyline, something I had seen hundreds of times, still seems incomplete.
I will visit the new Ground Zero museum, but it will be a very tough experience.