The hustle of the city is almost silenced by the pools that cascade deep into the ground at the 9/11 Memorial site. The solemn hum of the pools, the trees draping - creating shadows over the onlookers, the Freedom Tower, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum - shapes the somber atmosphere created as one reflects on the enormity of September 11th, 2001. At the Memorial Museum, people reflected on the day when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.
Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and the Museum is a particularly emotional experience for those responders and survivors who were there on September 11th and the days following. On July 13th Voices of September 11th (VOICES) sponsored by United Way of Middlesex County, accompanied responders and survivors to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. VOICES provided folders with information on possible emotional reactions, coping strategies, maps of the museum, in addition to the in person support that the staff offered.
For the majority of the responders and survivors that VOICES accompanied, this was their first time at the site since the terrorist attack. It was an opportunity for them to communicate their experience to their family and to be in the company of others who went through the same experience. One responder wrote in a thank you note, “It was a great and helpful experience [to have gone to the museum]… One thing in particular it seems to be helping me cope with my recurring breathing issues and not feeling sorry for myself. After being up there and contemplating what went on, I know I did the right thing and would do it all over again even if I knew what the consequences were.”
Visiting the Memorial and Museum as a group seemed to help the responders and survivors reflect on their experiences, how it changed their lives, and where they are today because of it. Ultimately, it provided them with a cathartic commemorative experience.