Molly’s Musings

Visiting Ground Zero and Remembering

By Molly Young

The wooden flute’s notes split the sticky city air.

As I stood on the busy sidewalk, I joked about the selection: “My Heart Will Go On.” The Celine Dion love ballad was quite different than the flutist’s previous performance of South American songs.

The small town square near Wall Street paid little attention to the musician. Vendors peddled their fares: “Crystal figurines: 2 for $10!” “Roasted Chestnuts: Best in the City!” A tow-headed toddler chased pigeons into the fountain. Tourists with instant smiles and arms thrown over one another posed for a group picture.

Taxis whirred. Hot dogs sizzled. Pedestrians chatted.

I breathed deeply and inhaled the scenery. New York City was alive.

I continued walking; floating along with the resonating tune until reaching a construction zone. Chain-link fence reached into the air. Signs marked the zone as a “Hard Hat Only Area.” Suddenly, the noise – the traffic, the food, the people – stopped, and time stood on edge.

Music shattered the silence.

“Near, far, wherever you are…”

The words resounded in my mind. Tears welled in my eyes. This was no ordinary construction zone.

“…I believe that the heart does go on.”

This was Ground Zero.

Beside me, a father explained to his three young sons, “This is where the bad guys flew planes into a building seven years ago.”

None of the boys – dressed in matching navy blue New York City T-shirts – were born yet, I told myself. They will read about September 11 in history books. They will memorize numbers, locations and perhaps even names.

My generation, my parents’ generation, and my grandparents’ generation, though, need no visual aids or history books to remember 9/11.

Much like my grandmother Muriel Young recalls listening to President Franklin Roosevelt declare December 7, 1941, a “date which will live in infamy,” I remember everything about September 11, 2001.

There, standing in front of a chain link fence, I closed my eyes. Science. Second period. Movie about volcanoes. Interruption. “Class, two planes have just flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.” Confusion. “What? Was this a mistake?” Pre-Algebra. Third period. Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Another hit the Pentagon. Industrial Tech. Fourth period. “Thousands perished this morning.”

I grabbed the cool metal wire. Music pounded in my chest.

“…I believe that the heart does go on.”