Today I have found photos from a trip my sister and I took to New York City in November 2001 — a scant two months after the horror of 9-11. Today, nearly 13 years after that trip, I stand in my basement fingering my way through a handful of photos from that wounded city, the smell of terrible, acrid, burning metal assaults me. I still see layers of ash blanketing storefronts and sidewalks, streets and tombstones, and clearly outlining footprints of visitors to Trinity Church.
I recall and recoil, but then I realize I am surprisingly grateful that I was there to see the original Ground Zero with all its horrors. I was like a Pilgrim drawn to a holy site. There’s gratitude for that, and there’s gratitude in knowing that horror has been erased, at least visually, and that we heal … and we rebuild.