Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day Six!

Moving right along... this post is a long one!

As I mentioned earlier, we had to pack up and check out of the Waldorf Saturday morning. When we extended our trip, the Waldorf could not continue to keep us. That was OK, because we moved over to the Dempsey’s hotel, which was convenient and though not as charming or historic, was more roomy and had free internet! (happy Drew!)

Food Network Building (American flag on top)

Food Network store

View of Chelsea market - coolest building and shops!

After our move, we headed over to Chelsea Market, which occupies the building that was formerly the National Biscuit Company (Oreos and saltines were once baked there). It is now currently home to my beloved Food Network and many cool shops and eateries. Unfortunately, you can’t just pop into the Food Network offices and ask for Bobby Flay or Rachael Ray. Oh well, at least Rich and I scored a Food Network coffee mug and baseball cap in one of their shops. We also had a snack there before we headed over to our 1:00 pm tour of the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.

It is hard to accurately convey the impact this little museum had on all of us. It is just a tiny room, which looks like it might have been a studio apartment at one time, located in what is known as the Meat Packing District. The museum was created by Gary Marlon Suson, (if you have a moment, please click his name and read his interesting story) who was the only photographer permitted to shoot the wreckage of 9/11. Gary was appointed under the conditions that he could not photograph human remains, would not receive any salary for his work, and could only sell his work if profits were shared with victims’families. Gary also collected artifacts from the site that were just going to be thrown away. Along with these artifacts, and his photography, he has put together this first class, intimate museum. Your tour begins with a movie which relives some of 9/11 and features Mr. Suson describing his experience taking these photos and being among the wreckage with the FDNY. I was very surprised to be immediately overcome with emotion as the movie played. The tears just began to flow, because in this environment you are able to relive this horrific event and feel for the victims and their families. There was a real connection to that horrific day.

You are then free to roam around the museum with a headset and a remote for a good amount of time. The walls are covered with the framed photos and artifacts are displayed in cases, and each has a number. You just punch in the number on your remote for any item and listen to the story of what you see. This takes well over an hour, as you don’t want to miss anything. I was very struck by the actual clock that he had retrieved from the PATH subway station below the World Trade Center. It had stopped at a little after 10:00 a.m., which was the time the second tower fell. It was a wall clock with a plug, and that is precisely when the electricity was cut off. He was able to retrieve it and have it in the museum.

There were also some other truly fascinating artifacts. One was a large piece of glass, which we learned was very unusual to find. In fact, all the glass that was found wouldn’t even fill the trunk of an ordinary car. They just simply did not find much glass – it all melted or turned to powder. But the most interesting artifact to me was an actual piece of one of the planes that was found. It is propped up against the wall in the museum, but for various reasons we were not allowed to take photographs of it.

Crosses and Star of David made by an artist from steel wreckage.

Actual clock found; photo of it on left. This is very eerie.

Calendar page found in the rubble.

I am so glad we visited this museum. I think it was very valuable for all of us, but especially for my children, to really allow them to experience this amazing event close up and personal. They were very little when it happened, and while we did watch it on TV, I think this opportunity gave them more of a sense of what a significant event this was. I still remember John MacArthur preaching the Sunday after 9/11. He pointed out that while this was a tremendous tragedy and large loss of life, it is important to remember that all of us will come to the same fate as the victims of that terrible September day. We will all die somehow, someday, and we don’t know when that will be. Are you ready to die? Is your future in heaven secure? That was his challenge to us that Sunday morning. We all must make that important decision to repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, while we have the opportunity.

After we left the museum, it was appropriate to go visit Ground Zero. There isn’t much to see as the perimeter is all fenced. There is construction going on, but Emma was able to shove her lens in between a hole in the fencing and get the above shot.
Kids with Gary Marlon Suson in St. Paul's

Across the street from Ground Zero is St. Paul's Chapel, where the rescue workers sought rest and refreshment during the rescue efforts. It is now somewhat of a small little tribute to 9/11. There is artwork from children and one of the beds the firemen used is still there. We were walking around when we saw Gary Marlon Suson sitting at a small table, signing his book, Requiem, which contains the photographs he took after 9/11, along with the story of it all. We approached him and told him that we had just visited his museum, and that we appreciated it very much. We got to talking with him and quickly observed the utter despair of his life. He was like a war veteran who had been forever changed by the experience of war. He truly seemed unable to smile (see photo above) and was completely discouraged by the evil of this world as demonstrated on 9/11. His experience at Ground Zero totally changed his life. He had to rummage through destruction and death for weeks, literally smelling death, seeing unfathomable things (like human remains) and eventually getting physically sick for months with respiratory illness after being on the site. He has only recently regained his health from that time. Rich shared with him a little about our loss of Brady and the fact that while evil and death does exist in the world, there is hope. He explained a little about our hope in Jesus Christ, and asked if he could send him some (gospel) material. He said we could do that. Rich immediately thought of John’s sermon, “Why does evil dominate the world?” with the story of Brady on it as the perfect DVD to send him. So we hope to do that really soon. It was really neat to end our 9/11 experience with meeting Mr. Suson and getting to share with him about having hope beyond this wicked and painful world – a world that he obviously finds no hope in. Before we parted, upon spotting Emma’s camera, he asked if he could take a photograph of our family in the chapel. After taking the photo he calmly stated, “Wow, that was the first time I’ve taken a picture since my work during 9/11.” Apparently, he was just so discouraged from his experience that he basically lost all interest in photography. This picture turned out to be the only picture of the four of us together from the entire trip.

Well, after that emotional experience, it was good to meet up with the Dempseys again for dinner at Tony's di Napoli. Tony’s is an Italian restaurant that has been around for awhile, where large servings of pasta and other Italian specialties are served family style. It is perfect for a group because you get to try more dishes. After filling up on delicious penne with broccoli, cheese ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, and Chicken Marsala, we walked around the city again, and by popular demand and general consensus, found ourselves at Serendipity for the second night in a row! It was just too good not to go back and we knew it would be a long time until we could ever have a frrrozen hot chocolate again. Some of us tried new things, and some of us were unable to deviate from the same item as the night before but everything was amazing.

We planned with the Dempseys to go to church the next morning at a church that both Rich and Rick had heard of from various people. Rich thought it would be "an interesting Christian cultural experience" and that it was....

1 comment:

Myra said...

We have so enjoyed New York via your and Emma's blog. I think I would also have been quite emotional to see the 9/11 museum and be reminded of all that happened on that fateful day. I still remember getting a call that woke us up and urged us to turn on the TV to see what was happening. How amazing is God's sovereignty that you met the 9/11 photographer and were able to give him a ray of hope that Christ alone can bring. I'll pray for him.