Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Category — Architecture/Place/Memorial

Never Forget [10.31.13]

Being only six years old, the worst thing  that had happened to me up until then was losing my grandmother. But the loss from 9/11 was on a much bigger scale and something I never really came to grasps with. I remember how we were sent home early that day and how that night my whole family met up in my aunt’s tiny apartment with eyes glued to the TV screen in unbelief as the two towers began to collapse. The rest was honestly a blur but the two things I remember were how the next nights would be spent attending prayer vigils and people crying out to God and how in school, my friends would tell of stories they heard from their parents and from the news or about the loved ones they had lost. As much as I was as hurt and angry and scared as all these other people, I never felt it being something real or rather I never wanted to accept it as something that truly happened and that those innocent people died and that this city I loved and felt safe in wasn’t as invincible as I thought it was. It was a wake up call that I didn’t want to answer. I never actually visited ground zero, except the few times I would pass it on outings with my parents. So I guess this was the first time I actually visited and it finally felt real to me. Seeing exactly where the towers stood and reading the names of the people who lost their lives finally made it a reality to me. I remember seeing the names and thinking about who they might’ve been to someone: a husband, a wife, a mother, a child… Oddly enough, the memorial wasn’t something that made you feel upset and angry. The trees and the running water. It gives peace more than anything. Despite how tragic, there’s a mutual understanding of the situation that give us as New Yorkers this unspoken bond.Now seeing the Vietnam memorial was a whole different situation. The broken water fountain, dead flowers and litter showed its abandonment. But the walls of quotes from real soldiers–that was powerful.  I feel like it didn’t have the same effect as the 9/11 memorial, but it was mostly because 9/11 occurred in my own lifetime unlike the Vietnam War. The abandonment of this memorial got me thinking about if this would be what would become of the 9/11 memorial. If in 100 years, it would not be as taken case of and the waterfalls would be running dry and the trees dead. But, I guess they’re two different situations. 9/11 was the first real attack on our country. Wars happen all the time. I guess the imprint on our minds is much deeper and will definitely be remembered and talked about for a long time–how through this tragedy, we were able to work through this and still stand tall.

December 15, 2013   No Comments

9/11 Memorial

The visit to the 9/11 Memorial was one that I will never forget. Although I watched the Freedom Tower being built over the years, I never entered the grounds of the World Trade Center after the Twin Towers collapsed.

After the security checkpoint and after going through the winding pathway, I entered the memorial and the sight of it took my breath away. It captured all of your senses. The whole site was silent except for the ongoing sounds of rushing water, which blocked out all the sounds of the city. The crisp, cool air enveloped you and the site of greenery everywhere was somewhat surprising. You could see exactly where the buildings once stood, as well as read the name of every person that lost their life that day.

The Freedom Tower stands as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere alongside the two monuments that were constructed at exactly the sites of the North and South Towers. The two perfectly symmetrical square monuments are identical, except for the names inscribed along the edges, and the depth to which the water fell was unperceivable, no matter how much you tried to see down to the bottom. Each name was illuminated and, each day, a white rose is placed in the names of the individuals whose birthday would have been on that day.

Standing there, it is almost as if you feel closer to the people that are no longer with us. There seemed to be warmth radiating from the names that affected you despite the day’s chilly weather. The more I stood in silence, simply letting the atmosphere engulf me, the more closer and empathetic I felt.

Overall, this experience was a memorable one and, as someone who was personally affected by the events of 9/11, I hope that that day will remain in our memories and never be forgotten in the generations to come after us. I intend to visit the memorial again in the near future.

November 17, 2013   No Comments

9-11 Memorial

The 9-11 Memorial is absolutely gorgeous. It is so grounded, so massive, so simple, and so magnificent. You can’t help but feel something in the presence of all those names lining two waterfalls where the World Trade Center buildings once stood.

I think part of the reason the memorial is so powerful is because it envelopes all of your senses. You can see exactly where the buildings were. You can see the names, feel each and every name of each and every person that lost their life. You feel the breeze, the water spraying up onto your face from down below. The sound of the constant falling water takes you out of time, out of place, and envelopes you. It forces you, in the most gentle, unassuming way possible, to reflect, to be silent, and to feel.

The massiveness of the whole thing is also very awe inspiring. Those huge basins full of water and the endless pit in the centers of both really impact you. I felt like the buildings were falling. I could feel the emptiness above me where two buildings full of people should have been. That falling water is like the buildings forever falling.

And I know we could all feel it. We were all so taken by the memorial. And when we saw a woman’s name and “her unborn child” I know we all felt that loss. When a memorial can do that to so many different people, it is definitely a successful memorial.

November 12, 2013   No Comments

Vietnam Memorial


I am only titling this as “Vietnam Memorial” because I missed out on going to the 9/11 Memorial. I actually have been to the 9/11 Memorial and I honestly couldn’t do again. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, but the whole thing was just very distraught (at least when I went). I felt more of a connection to the 9/11 Memorial because when I was younger, I used to live in Corona, Queens and I was at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. Everyday, even if it was foggy outside, I was able to see the twin towers from my room. On 9/11/2001, I was in class and everyone was being taken to go home and I was one of the only ones that was still in class not knowing what happened. When I got home, I looked out my window and all I saw was black smoke in replace of the twin towers. I already knew what had happened, but didn’t know how. I turned on the television to watch cartoons and nothing was on besides the news. Immediately as soon as I realized what had happened, I tried to call my mom because I knew she worked in Manhattan. She wouldn’t pick up and I was worried, but I had my sister and grandmother’s company. She got  home tiredly (she had to walk home from Manhattan) with pictures (that she didn’t allow me to see). For me, the thought that this happened is so unexplainable. Even as a kid, I understood what was going on.

Everyone probably felt differently about the two and they aren’t comparable because it was two totally different events/circumstances/etc.

The Vietnam Memorial had a different feel to it. It’s a vibe that I can’t explain, but it was more mellow to a certain extent. I try to think of the situation the soldiers were in especially as they were writing. When, where, why, how? I obviously won’t understand their exact feelings. As for another story, my step-dad always talks to me about the times he was in Vietnam. He has been on several tours and has experienced many gruesome things. He has weak legs because of all the wounds and scars. His teeth were messed up from being blown up a bit (don’t really know how to describe it as good as him), but fixed. He is infected with Agent Orange. His friends died during and years after the war (because of repercussions). I think to myself that could’ve been him. And that is a sad thought.


P.S. – Sorry for the lateness!

November 11, 2013   No Comments

Memorializing 9/11 & Vietnam

    The 9/11 memorial was incredible. The rushing water, the omnipresence of the victims’ names, the imperceivable depth of the falls; the memorial was unforgettable. As you tour the perimeter of the pools you are engulfed in memory, empathy, and pride. Seeing the grandeur of Freedom Tower and the healed wound that was ground zero made me feel ridiculously in touch with American pride; to see how we bounce back after such tragedy was truly inspiring. However, upon seeing first-hand the kind of destruction and loss terrorism causes, I felt angry. I didn’t and still don’t know how to deal with those feelings; the feelings of fear, vulnerability, desire for vengeance. I suppose George Bush felt the same way, and that’s how we ended up in Iraq. I believe memorializing such a horrific event in this refined, simplistic, elegant fashion can help heal the collective scar that 9/11 has left. It shows that we can overcome any obstacle, no matter how daunting. Seeing the rise of the new World Trade Center proves that while our buildings may have been broken, our spirit never was.

     The Vietnam memorial was different, but no less powerful. This memorial incorporated letters from soldiers no older than I am; this hit a melancholic note for many of us there. The weather mimicked these feelings, as dark clouds rolled overhead, a violent wind propelling them. This was accompanied by tiny raindrops that hit the pavement like tears. I imagine on a spring day this memorial must feel different, but in the atmosphere we saw it, it seemed despondent, sad, and in all its disrepair, almost lost. In many ways, that’s what Vietnam was: a generation of lost boys, fighting fruitlessly and without cause, but nonetheless, gallantly. While the memorial may seem detached and far away, Vietnam is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the American people. The policy and events surrounding Vietnam will always haunt us, regardless if we did not live through it. We will never forget the travesty that was the Vietnam War.

November 7, 2013   No Comments