Last Stop

New York subways don’t faze me after living in Chicago. Alone I took the train to catch up with my friends.

911 wtc memorial subway sign

to world trade center all times

They’d gone ahead to shop in SoHo. First time I’d been in New York since 1993. Or was it 1994? Didn’t matter. I was on the train now, rolling toward our rendezvous point. The destination we promised not to miss while in the city.

The digital map counted down the stops. Spring Street. Canal Street.

wtc nyc last stop

last stop

“Is this the new station?” a fellow tourist said as we arrived. “This must be the new station.”

“No,” said a New Yorker in earshot of the traveler. “This is the same station. The one under the buildings.”

So clean and empty now. Images of firemen covered in dust and wading through rubble flashed in my memory.

911 wtc subway station

world trade center subway station

We’re in line,” a text beeped through from my friends. “Meet us at the entrance. We have your ticket.”

The street narrowed as I made my way.

911 memorial crowd walking to entrance

walking to entrance

My friends and I passed through security, stood in line with crowds of people, and finally stepped inside the fences.

In Washington, D.C., the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon is quiet like a graveyard. You can walk through it, touch the monuments, gaze directly into the pools.

In New York, the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is a city park, flat concrete with trees placed about. A bustling stage set for the main event.

We were drawn to the sides of a massive square basin.

911 wtc memorial water falling

water fall

People of every size, shape, and color leaned close to the stone edges engraved with the names of the deceased. We peered over to see down into the water.

Thousands of gallons rushed along a run under the stone edges with the names. We could touch that stream. Visitors brought their wet fingers up to the names they knew. Like a drink in the sweltering sun.

roses at 911 memorial nyc


The water from the run rested on a ledge then fell, plummeting straight down to another greater plateau. From there it was pulled across until it dropped out of sight into a deep shaft at the center of the fountain.

911 wtc memorial full shot

9/11 world trade center memorial fountain

I turned to leave. “There are two of them?”

We walked across the concrete plaza to another fountain identical to the first, except engraved with different names. Nearly an acre each in size, these fountains are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. They trace the footprints of the two World Trade Center towers.

I tried to imagine people running across the courtyard. Tried to see bits of shredded office paper midair.

A museum will open at the site to join the fountains. Reconstruction of new buildings has begun. We’re years away from that day, but we remember.

911 wtc memorial sign

9/11 memorial

On location in New York, second by second, the water reenacts the motion of the debris, buildings, and people. 

It rushes and swirls and falls and is gone.

For He knows how weak we are;
He remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:14-16 NLT

Other everyday epistle posts Remembering 9/11:
Somewhere in Pennsylvania,
The Angry American, and
If You See Something.

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Filed under America, remembering 9/11

6 Responses to Last Stop

  1. Diana Byrd

    Thanks, Aimee, for an eye into the Memorial event, which we shall never forget! God comfort those whose lives have been forever changed. Amen.

  2. Aimee, That is a beautiful tribute. “Visitors brought their wet fingers up to the names they knew. Like a drink in the sweltering sun” brought tears to my eyes. You have a wonderful way with words, capturing emotions with each line.

    • Aimee

      Thank you, Theresa. I knew I wanted to see the memorial, but I didn’t research it much before I visited. Unintentionally, my visit became an experience of discovery, and I tried to convey what I felt in the post.

  3. I have never seen the images from the memorial – this was a great account of the emotion and honor that was built into the grounds for us to always remember. I had no idea the fountains traced the buildings – that is amazing. Such beautiful words for such an important day! Thank you!