I moved from Seattle to Manhattan, four years ago today, fresh from college and ready to start my career as a magazine journalist. I was beyond excited, a little scared, but more than ready to start my real life in the big city. The cab dropped us off at our hotel, we deposited our bags and decided to take in a meal somewhere in Little Italy. Afterwards, we made our way to Ground Zero to pay our respects. Back in 2004, it was much different down there, having only been three years after the attacks had taken place. People were everywhere, walking up and down and around the outside area of the site, reading the signs, peeking through the fence, trying to take it all in. People were also still allowed to leave posters and photocopied pictures of their loved ones up on the surrounding metal fence, along with prayer candles placed below, many with bouquets of flowers resting along side, creating a silent memorial to remember their loved ones whose lives had been lost. This intensified the experience for me and as I wandered around, I became overwhelmed with the reality that stared back at me everywhere I looked. Choked up, I tried to imagine even what a sliver of that day had been like and it was almost unbearable. Ever since 2001, I have always paid my respects to 9/11 in some shape or form, but somehow, living here now, knowing this is where it took place, combined with arriving in the city on that day just three years after it happened, I have made it my own private ritual to make my way down to Ground Zero to pay my own personal tribute to the people of 9/11.
Today will be no different.