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North Tower fountain

North Tower fountain

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling somewhat “blah” towards New York.  I’m sure it has to do with the fact that the sun now sets at around 4:30pm and that a day with a high of 45 degrees is considered “warm”.  Whatever the reason, lately I’ve just been doing a lot of the same old routine. I wake up, work, gym, maybe see some friends, go home.  After everything that has happened over the past few days in our nation, it became clear to me that my apathetic attitude was keeping me from appreciating everything around me.

I know I tend to make fun of tourists when they come to New York since I never consider myself a tourist when I visit other cities.  I only say this about myself because I prefer to get to know the residents and usually the cuisine, as opposed to viewing the sites when I travel.  That said, when I feel bored with my city of dwelling, sometimes the best way to fall in love with it again is to play tourist.  So, that’s what I did!  And I dragged one of my best friends, Jason, along with me.  On Saturday, Jason and I participated in a 9/11 walking tour of New York City.  You would not believe how much of a tourist I was!  I’m pretty sure Jason and I were the only people in our group that were actually from New York, but we asked more questions and took more pictures than EVERYONE.

Although I live less than a mile from Ground Zero (note: New Yorkers prefer to still call this area the World Trade Center) I rarely frequent the area or anywhere in the financial district.  The main reason is because I’m lazy but also because the streets can get quite confusing, I have no reason to go there (I don’t work near there or have friends who live there), and…it’s usually overrun with tourists.  Well. Let me just say that I will never let tourists prevent me from learning about my city again.  We visited churches, public art, and buildings I’ve probably passed hundreds of times but never paid attention to or knew the story behind them.  Most importantly, our tour included a visit to the September 11th memorial.  This memorial is breathtaking.  As an Arlingtonian, September 11th particularly tugs at my heart because a portion of the tragic events of that day happened near my home.  In fact, the flight that hit the Pentagon flew over my house.  As most Americans, I can remember where I was and what I was doing so clearly but the effects lasted for so long because I saw a reminder through the gaping hole in the Pentagon every day on my way to school.

It was hard to not be somber while viewing the memorial, especially after Friday’s senseless act of violence, but I also felt such pride in being an American.  The design of the complex perfectly toes the delicate line of becoming a functioning business district, while also being a site where guests can pay their respects to those who perished on that fateful day.  The memorial is a part of what will soon be known as the redeveloped World Trade Center; once 1 World Trade Center (a.k.a. the Freedom Tower), 4 World Trade Center, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum are completed.   If you come to New York and visiting the 9/11 memorial is on your list, I highly recommend visiting it as a part of a larger tour.  You’ll learn so much more about the resilient spirit of New Yorkers and why this city draws so many dream pursuers.  You’ll skip the lines too! Our tour company was Sidewalks of NY* and I highly recommend them.  Please note, this tour is not for the weary as it is 2.5 hours long.  Jason and I were SO tired by the time it was over but it was well worth it!

Pilgrimage Alter in St. Paul's Chapel - the oldest building in New York. After 9/11 this alter was filled with mementos by those remembering lost ones.

Pilgrimage Alter in St. Paul’s Chapel – the oldest building in New York. After 9/11 this altar was filled with mementos by those remembering lost ones.

St. Paul's Chapel, a hub for rescue workers and those injured during September 11. Although it's located only a few hundred feet from the World Trade Center, it suffered little to no damage.

St. Paul’s Chapel, a hub for rescue workers and those injured during September 11. Although it’s located only a few hundred feet from the World Trade Center, it suffered little to no damage.

The chapel itself became a memorial

Flad of Honor depicting those killed

Flag of Honor depicting the names of those killed

After the attacks, police and rescue workers all over the world sent their badges to show support, solidarity, and unity towards New York response workers