Wabash Blogs New York 2006 Immersion Trip

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Day 5: Uptown and Down

Greg Ridenour
I will remember today for the rest of my life. We started the day off by traveling to Central Park where we saw some breathtaking views of the city. We stood out in front of the Dakota Apartments where John Lennon was shot and killed, then walked across the street into the park to see Strawberry Fields and his memorial.

Walking through the park was a really cool experience in the sense that we got to see the somewhat quieter, more relaxed side of New York City. After walking some trails in Central Park we toured Columbia University and learned several things about Kerouac, Ginsberg and some other famous alumni from our own Professor Abbott. Next and finally for the day’s sights, we rode the subway down to lower Manhattan to see the World Trade Center sight. It was amazing, breathtaking, and unbelievable; basically no adjective can fully describe that feeling. Of course everyone has their own feelings of the attack on 9/11 without even seeing the sight. We walked in and around the World Financial Center and looked out on an incredible view of the World Trade Center sight. Speaking on behalf of the class and faculty members that were present, we were absolutely speechless. After seeing this view we then walked out and looked out at the water. Not many things were said, we were silent and still in awe of what we had just witnessed. They day moved from laughter, fun and lots of walking to us sitting there silent, thinking, and imagining what it would have been like to actually see the planes fly into our buildings. It has taken us all awhile to loosen up since that scene. A large group of us are now getting ready to go see an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House. It seems like a very fitting ending to this day. Hope all is well with everyone across the states.

Michael Matsey
The images I see are not real. They cannot be. I see an empty pit of concrete and broken steal. I see the flags flying atop many buildings across the way. I stood upon the steps of heaven when I was at Ground Zero. Despite all the television, history specials, 24 hour news coverage, I cannot express in human words what it was like to see where the once great buildings of the World Trade Center existed. When I first began to write this blog, I tried to compare it with what I felt that early morning in september. I felt sadness, anger, hatred, dismay, and shock among a slew of other feelings. I remember being in art class when I saw the towers fall to the ground; I nearly fainted at the sight. It was as if all the cries of those that perished rang in my head. I stand here at Ground Zero in a sense of nihilism. What else am I supposed to feel? At least a first, I feel nothing, but as I gaze across the empty plain in a concrete mountain, I feel a kind of awareness. It is difficult to explain; is it an awareness of humanity? My relationships with others? In deep thought I realize a contrast that I did not notice in our travels around the city. It is quiet around Ground Zero. Whether it was of my own invention or if it was real (surely I remember hearing construction off in the distance). It felt that the city was still morning its loss.

At the same time, I noticed a world of change. I became more aware of the construction surrounding me. This area is going through a rebirth as it begins to rebuild. Despite all that the terrorists attempted that morning, we have overcome. We are in the process of building a memorial, office complexes-an entire community upon the site of this now sacred space. Some may call it moving on...but I would call it moving beyond. We always remember the past. Indeed, we obsess about the past. Why? Perhaps because we want to know where we have come from to create our own identity. When historical and significant events occur, it remolds the identity of our lives. 9/11 certain changed the way our lives work. Just as we look into the past for a connection, so too must we about our future. Each moment is connected to each other in ways human being can only barely fathom. The past, present and future connect to each other in a sort of spider's web.

I realize that 9/11 will be remembered forever. It defined our own generation-its our "where were you when..." moments. In the same way, human beings are connected to each other. Ground Zero used to give me, and still does, sense of sadness, and anger but now...now it gives me hope. A Hope that humanity will finally realize that we each impact each others lives. Think Chaos Theory meets philosophy. Beyond our mortal lives exists a wonder that mankind has searched for since the dawn of time. No matter what events lay in store for our future, humanity will continue, and all the more wiser.