Dec 23, 2020

Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial

"Empty Sky" 9/11 Memorial - Liberty State Park, NJ. I stumbled upon this memorial while scouting for a Manhattan skyline shot and couldn't tear myself away. The architect, Frederic Schwartz created a structure with the most fitting semantics and syntax.

From a distance there appear to be two tall columns - obviously a nod to the Twin Towers. Upon approach, one sees that they are the ends of two long concrete walls. The interior is lined with metallic panels etched with the names of New Jersey's victims of the 9/11 attacks. 

Inside the walls, the outside world largely disappears from site, save for the views through the open ends. The orientation of the structures guide your eye to the former sight of the towers and where the Freedom Tower now sits. Inside, the metallic surface reflects the Manhattan skyline and catches light, creating stunning rings that inspire and uplift. 

During my visit, a lone vase of roses sat on the ground in front of one of the names. Aside from this and some visitors taking the time to actually read the "Empty Sky" description, there didn't appear to be much solemn reflection. (One picnicker smacked a bag of ice against the exterior wall to break up the chunks.) This made me kind of sad. 

How quickly humans tend to forget. That's our nature I suppose. How many of us know who our great grandfathers and mothers were? Their names? What they were like? We really are as one proverb puts it, like blades of grass. We're short-lived and quickly fade away into oblivion. The only place we continue to exist - if we're fortunate - is in memory.

So today I reflect on that. I also reflect on Frederic Schwartz. I was sad to learn the he himself passed away in 2014. If he were here, I'd tell him that he created something beautiful and meaningful. His design literally reflects. It puts blinders on the hustle and bustle of our surroundings and distills our attention to these thoughts and memories. Let us not forget. Let's also use our lives in a way worthy of remembering, especially as we move forward into 2021. Life is precious. The losses suffered in 2020 were far too great, so my hope is that we stop to reflect and measure our steps with care in consideration of others.