The World Trace Centre memorial fountains are a place for personal reflection
On an unseasonably hot and humid summer day, on June 12, 2012, my New York cousins and I went to the World Trade Centre Tribute Centre to take a guided tour of Memorial Plaza, the transformed Ground Zero. I learned much about pastoral ministry and about life that day, writes Fr John Chalmers in The Catholic Leader.
On busy, lower Manhattan's Liberty Street, my cousins Sue and Mike and their adult children Michael and Kate joined me and a band of 20 or so "pilgrims" from Mexico, West Virginia and Belgium for a comprehensive pre-tour briefing.
The Tribute Centre provides informative tours of the WTC memorial five or six times daily. Each tour is guided by two of more than 400 volunteer guides, each of them deeply affected by the events of 9/11. They include downtown residents, relatives and emergency responders.
The 90-minute tours incorporate the volunteer tour guide's personal September 11 story, an account of the tragedy, a description of the memorial and the rebuilding of the site.
Each tour guide undertakes a comprehensive, gradual orientation process, eventually accompanying an experienced guide, before leading a tour. Each tour is structured around four planned stops on Memorial Plaza.
However, each guide's story at those stops is distinctly personal. What tour guides would seem to have in common is the dawning awareness that there is a right time to step forward as a volunteer tour guide.
Readiness factors entail discerning whether a potential guide is free from habitually short-circuiting tourists and visitors from having their own way of relating to 9/11.
When New York firefighter Bill Spade was recovering from his injuries after 9/11, he never imagined returning to the site, let alone telling anyone what happened that day. "I always said I thought this was something I would never talk about. Now I'm talking about it (as a tour guide) twice a week," he said.
He adds that telling his story has been a healing and a "saving grace" in his life. This comment resonates with the "something more" that I discovered on Memorial Plaza that day. There, amid so many elements that reflect absence, I found an unanticipated liveliness.
FULL STORY Reflecting on 9/11 (Catholic Leader)