Ground zero: A Selfie stop for some, a cemetery for others

New York, Sept. 20 (BUS): Twenty years after terrorists flew two planes to the World Trade Center, the memorial at Ground Zero has its own routine, not much different from many of the city’s tourist sites.

Visitors from all over the world come and go. They snap selfies as they browse the nearly 3,000 names engraved into the parapets that form two reflecting pools. Doctors offer tours. Tourists look at their watches, decode the subway maps and tick the box. Then they leave, according to the Associated Press.

But for those who live and work near the memorial, the site is part of their daily routine and holy ground. The names on the bulkheads are more than bronze engravings, and 55,000 gallons of water recycling through reflective ponds is more than just a social media post. It is a constant reminder of this infamous day. It is a cemetery.

After the plaza empties around the reflecting ponds each evening, Kevin Hansen puts on his blue work gloves, grabs his flashlight and begins his nightly work of repairing and maintaining the tall bronze palisades bearing the names of the dead.

Hansen was 8 years old and in elementary school on Long Island in 2001.

“You just remember everyone was getting phone calls and the teachers didn’t know what was going on. And then the parents would come to school to pick up the kids.”

“It’s important to me,” Hansen says of his work.

“This is a sign that we all came together again in 2001,” he said. “This is my patriotism and this (event) is unforgettable.” “I think this place makes people see that there is evil in the world, but it can be overcome.”

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On the other hand, while patrolling the World Trade Center, New York Police Officer Mike Dougherty watches the memorial, often cleaning dirt from the bulkheads and answering questions from tourists.

“This is a sacred land. This is where thousands of people are buried, many of whom are still unidentified.”

“If we see something on the board, we’ll make sure to scan it, and I see their names and I’ll touch it. Here I’m looking at them, basically. Try to pass that on to people who don’t understand what it’s about.”

“I get that, a lot of questions sometimes, you know: ‘What is this area? “And I don’t deal with that. I like to explain to them where the buildings are. What is this all about. Just to keep the memory of everyone in your life when you tell someone who doesn’t have that connection.”


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