New York, Take 3

The following week, we did the WTC Memorial, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.

First stop, the WTC Memorial.

South Tower Memorial

The Freedom Tower

I'm not sure Brennan grasped the enormity of what happened here (do any of us, really?). Rich has asked a million questions about 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, extremism, and Homeland Security, so I think he went into it with a pretty good context of what we were seeing and the impact it's had on life in the U.S. This was such a good teaching moment, from the extensive security clearance at the entrance, two the murals of gathering in different countries on the night of 9/11, to the diversity of teary-eyed visitors gathered around the edges of the fountains. I know this for certain about 9/11 - New Yorkers carry that pain in their heart still, and it's very visceral and real for them. Even the Pakistani cabbie who drove us to the site got a bit choked up talking about it, and said that it still bothers him to drive in that part of town.

Also striking were the sheer number of names listed under various Fire and Emergency units, as well as the diversity of ethnic names carved into the stone. This was reflected in the diversity of nation groups represented at the memorial - the older British couple searching for a name, the young woman in a Burkah carefully making a rubbing from a name on the Pennsylvania list, the Hindi father in a Paghi turban pointing to the sky with tears in his eyes as he explained to his young son what happened that day. If anything, we came away from the memorial realizing that 9/11 was not just an attack against the United States or capitalism, it was an attack on the world, one that affected all of humanity in some way. We were able to discuss the dangers of extremism and the importance of living in peace despite religious and political differences. We all shed some tears as we tried to honor the names by reading as many as we could - but there were simply too many. Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming, to the point that we merely walked over to glance at the North tower memorial, but didn't walk around it.

Castle Clinton has a rich history as the original U.S. Immigration center (pre-dating Ellis Island),
a defensive fort against the British during the War of 1812, and beautiful women drinking
bottled water in the foreground.

It's a short walk from there to Battery Park where we planned to catch the ferry over to Liberty and Ellis Island. Battery Park was a blast! I have to pause here and post a picture of Castle Clinton for my TTLG readers. Castle Clinton is the launching point for a beloved game called Deus Ex, much of which takes place in New York. It's become especially poignant since 9/11 since the premise of the game involves an extremist bombing of an iconic U.S. landmark (in this case, the Statue of Liberty).

Some of the best NYC experiences are the spontaneous ones: street performers, altercations between the NYPD and religious protest groups, crazy people shouting at you. We always try to stop and watch the street acrobats if we're not running late to get somewhere.

Liberty Cruises was the cheapest way to go for tickets to the two islands. The boys were extremely excited to finally see the statue up close.

We love the Junior Ranger programs at the National Monuments - they really do
care about teaching the kids and always come up with fun ways to help
them remember the important details. 

Ellis island used to be the main point of entry for Immigrants coming to the U.S., but now it's a museum. We typically follow the kid's lead at places like this. They are drawn to certain things that interest them, and they love being the first to discover them and show them to us. We've found that forcing them to absorb every little description and display becomes tedious and they don't remember the stuff they don't care about to begin with. Obviously we point out any important things they'll regret missing later, but we try to be as casual as possible. There were lots of great displays here, but we were getting worn out and ready to head home.

Next post: More Central Park and Times Square

1 comment:

  1. Dude. You guys went to NYC more times in 2 months than most people have in YEARS. I love NYC, but I am falling in love with DC these days.