One of my sisters was here recently for a visit and high on her list of places to go was the 9/11 Memorial. To be honest, I did not want to go. It is hard to see this site as a tourist destination. The original act of senseless violence and the subsequent wrong turns and bad ideas that it spawned leave me feeling less than thrilled about making it part of any itinerary. But Sis wanted to go, so we ran the gauntlet, which is what happens to those who feel the need to visit the memorial before it is totally open to the street. It will be someday when all the construction is completed but, for now, one must get a free visitor pass at a location several blocks away from the entrance. This not-so-brief walk also allows the construction workers taking lunch to have a front row seat to view all the tourists heading to the site (it was ALL tourists - why do they want to see this?). If you enjoy being inspected by many construction workers while they eat sandwiches, then I recommend this visit to you.
After the visual inspection by iron workers and other tradesmen, you go through a security check that makes an airport security check-in experience seem like a joyful welcome from your favourite grandmother. So, if you enjoy being manhandled by people in light blue shirts who have been trained by some rogue nation's secret police, then I highly recommend this visit to you.
After some vigorous inspection and humiliation, then you walk through an endless roped off area - back and forth like some kind of surrealist movie sequence. In fact, it was so bizarre and yet compelling that I was seriously regretting not bringing my video camera. I was regretting it until I was accosted after taking this one photo in an attempt to capture the way people were moving through the space. Apparently, no photographs were allowed here, although it is not at all clear why since photographs are okay at the actual site. If you have ever wished to be a participant in a Kafka-esque bit of highly guarded choreography, then I recommend this visit to you.
|It is much more interesting with the movement but I can not fathom what would befall |
anyone who dared try to record it.
I think it is a testament to the design that anyone was able to feel anything other than a sense of despair at what has happened to public access and our collective sense of paranoia since 9/11. Indeed the disparity between the experience of getting into the memorial and the memorial itself is perhaps the perfect illustration of the state of the country today. The very best and the very worst, side-by-side and completely interconnected.