Wednesday, January 16, 2013

World Trade Center Memorial Documentary

I am sick with the flu.  I went in and added a bit to this post that I had posted a while back.

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My husband is an arborist.  Several years ago things were going really, really well for us and suddenly that came to a grounding halt that rocked our world.  It was one of those times when you don't know why God has you on a certain path, but you just turned out that God's plan was for my husband to be part of the World Trade Center Memorial in Lower Manhattan.  Once that happened, it felt like his whole life, every decision he'd made had lead up to being part of this project.  It was such an honor to give back like that.

Scott Elliott of 590 Films has been documenting my husband's work from very early on.  Since the Memorial opened we have been working on having Scott film our family's first trip to the Memorial.  I will be honest here, and this may surprise people, I didn't want to go to the Memorial.  It was an emotionally very difficult thing.  Although I had been there many times after the attacks, looked through the fence, saw the armed guards, saw the steel that was left that looked like a crucifix...although I had done all of that, I was not ready to face this new thing, this memorial, which is why it took us a year to do it.
on our way to the Memorial
In the 1940s and 1950s my grandfather owned a barber shop on West Broadway that was torn down to make room for World Trade Center Plaza.  So, in some ways, this neighborhood has always felt a little like part of the family for me.  There are so many family stories about the barber shop, we all have a piece of it in our homes: chairs, bowls, other cool things.

Having Jason be part of the Memorial meant so much to my family as we all have a connection to this neighborhood.
Freedom Tower in the distance
I have lived in New Jersey for most of my life. When I was young and we would go to Manhattan--which was fairly often--I would always look for the Twin Towers.  You could not miss them.  They were, in my opinion, the strongest thing that set the New York Skyline apart from other skylines in other cities.

Now, as we approach the city, we can see the Freedom Tower.  I like it.  It's like a beacon, a sentinel, guarding us and reminding us at the same time.  It stands strong and proud, already taller than the other buildings and they have a few more floors yet to build.
when it is done it will be the tallest building.
It is a little surreal knowing someone is filming your every move.  It is really hard NOT to think about it and to just act naturally.  I was aware of all the little things my kids were doing.  You know, like pushing each other and rolling their eyes at me.

Scott is SUCH a great guy and made us feel really comfortable!

One of the coolest things was that prior to this experience, Piper had been spending a lot of time making videos.  All kinds of videos: stop motion, music videos, interviews, how-to, etc.  I can totally see Piper pursuing a career in documentary film-making.  Scott was really excited about this and she got to talk to him a little bit about what he does.  He said that if she is interested in an internship when she gets a little older, he would have a spot for her!  How cool is that?

when a camera follows you around anywhere, attention is drawn to you
There were a lot of emotions when we were there, from my family's almost century-long connection with the neighborhood to my wishing my Uncle could be there with us.  So often when we would go into the city, we would arrange to meet him, even if just for dinner.  He would have LOVED to be there for this.  He was SO PROUD of Jason.

One of Jason's trees
The trees were powerful for us when we were there.  Maybe because Jason has been involved with them for so long or maybe because they are the first thing you see when you get there.  You hear the rushing water and you see the has a power to take you out of yourself, to remember not only that day but that there is something greater than us present in this space, in this world.
Hubby's trees

getting mic'd
Looks like the city behind me, right?  But in front of was a peaceful, beautiful oasis in the middle of one of the most influential cities on the planet.

This is what I was looking at as I was getting prepped:

I like how the clouds reflect in the building.

I was surprised at how small the Memorial is.  It is not completely open yet, and even with these big reflecting pools, it feels very intimate.  The combination of trees and rushing water makes it feel peaceful.

The mood is somber, reflective.  We were really aware of where we were and why we were there and what happened there.

it was emotional for both Jason and I when he was standing there with the girls...reflecting on the project, the reason for it, the world...

Jason and the girls at the World Trade Center Memorial

We wish with all of our hearts that there was no need for this Memorial.  We wish that day had never happened.  That day changed the course of every American life.  We live differently now, no longer trusting as much, no longer feeling as safe.  Jason is glad to have been able to be part of the place that people can go to remember the lives lost that day.

World Trade Center Memorial fountains

I will be honest, I feel funny that we are smiling in these photos.  We walked in and it was somber, we were reflective.  But other people were smiling, there is some joy in this space.  I know that may be hard to fathom, but it is there.  When I look at these photos, I think I should not post them because we look happy...but then when I remember being there, I remember that it was reflective and somber, but there is also a certain amount of healing and joy and peace there as well.  It is hard to explain.

I've been through a lot this past year.
The thing I learned is that you do just keep putting one foot in front of the other, breathing.
It seems crazy,
it seems like your world is ending,
yet somehow something takes over when our emotions are raw and we keep going.

and the sun does come out again...

and you see our American flag in the midst of the trees and you vow to yourself and this country, your kids and all that is holy that you are not going to let the dark side win...

you will keep on, keeping on...

when you are in pain,
it sometimes seems wrong that there is still beauty in this world.

and then one day, you can appreciate it again.

This was an absolutely amazing experience that we were blessed to have had an opportunity to be part of.  Not a day went by that we didn't think of the families that were affected by this.  

Scott Elliott of 590 Films

interviewing the family

After the girls and I did our part, we wandered around while Jason spent some time with the film crew.

Jason is now a pro at putting the mic on

We did a little spying on Jason and the guys making the documentary.

I love that you are invited to touch the names.
I imagined those touches as little hugs, love that maybe could take away some of the pain and fear.

I love the open-ness, the invitation, the understanding that we need to touch these people, we need to touch this place as it has touched all of our lives.

It seems both wrong and right that happiness could be here.

Reflection, absolutely.
World Trade Center Memorial
Lower Manhattan
New York

Understanding, definitely.

It has been an honor for Jason to be part of this project.

To all those who lost a loved one we offer our sincere condolences.
We hope that you find some peace in this Memorial.