A handful of years ago I was headed to an event in Phoenix, Arizona, when we found ourselves driving thru Gila Bend — a small rural town in Arizona with the population just over 2,000 people. We had heard there was something pretty special located there, so we took a right turn off the highway to see if we could find it. It only took a few minutes to come upon a beautiful park with a meaningful tribute to the memory of 9/11. What? I know! who knew?! And I was excited to check it out.
Since this California girl has yet to get to New York to experience the 9/11 memorial built there, this park was my chance to connect with that unforgettable day.
We parked and walked over to the memorial — It was quiet, warm, and windy. No other tourist types were traipsing around us. As I walked closer, a tall dark blurry object appeared into my field of vision. It was a piece of the south World Trade Center tower and I was drawn to it with my entire being. The urge to touch it was crazy! I HAD to know what it looked like. I HAD to understand what this twisted and torn 1,000 pound piece of steel I-beam stood for. What I actually encountered was so much more than I anticipated.
I placed my hands on the jagged metal, garnished with dirt and cobwebs. I walked around it — feeling all parts of it — opening myself up to connect with it. The energy I picked up with the palms of my hands was intense. I felt death, loss, and sadness. I saw faces of people I didn’t know; I recalled the sounds of the chaos I had watched on TV that fateful morning in 2001. The heaviness in my heart grew until it overflowed and ran down my face. What a horrific act of terrorism that caused such terror for so many.
After I pulled myself together and whispered my respects, we got back on the road. As I looked out the window and watched, well, um, nothing, I reflected on lots of things for miles. I wondered if my experience at the memorial would’ve been the same if I could have physically seen the steel structure with all the details and textures it displayed. Would I have felt it necessary to touch the holes and rusty edges? Would connecting visually with my eyes have been enough?
Or, has going blind persuaded and pushed me to experience people, places, and things using touch (when appropriate, of course!) to create deeper connection — a deeper connection that many fully sighted folks simply don’t or need to do? Did I have a richer experience without full sight?
Having lived both a sighted and blind life, I think my experience was richer — embedded with radical vibes and fine tuned senses — because I am blind. I mean, I went deep, real deep on this one Loves! I suspect the emotions tucked within the NYC 9/11 Memorial is deeper than one’s imagination and I hope to “feel” it one day.
I experience life differently now, and I don’t underestimate the power of my heart, mind, and touch anymore.
We will never forget those who suffered, survived, and died on September 11, 2001. ❤️🤍💙
A Gila Bend visitor comment from TripAdvisor: “Stunning! The fact cities and organizations could petition the 9/11 Authorities in New York City to get onto a waiting list for artifacts of the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers. After eight long years (I quote the informational board) Gila Bend was awarded a piece of the South Tower with the stipulation they would have to arrange to travel to New York City to pick it up and transport it to Gila Bend. An almost 2,600 mile trip, heroic member of the Gila Bend Community, resident Lynn Jones, made-it-happen. Its first public appearance in Gila Bend was on November the 5th, 2011.”
Click HERE for more information on the Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park in Arizona.
This is TyThompson and I am a B2 in vision loss. I have been to the NYC memorial and I can only say that you will want to make a trip there, even with your vision loss. At the guest desk for the memorial, which is all underground, they have special headsets which know your location and direct you through the entire exhibit. Two professional actors, which you’ll recognize their voices, do all of the narration. They do an unrealistic and proud narration. Each place they discuss also includes a narration by a person involved or a survivor. It is the most powerful event I’ve attended in my 60 year life! You were certainly moved my your stop and sensations of the visit, so I’m certain that you will be moved even more with a personal tour such as this at the actual memorial. I had to write to encourage you to take the time and make the trip. Hope you do. Kind regards, Ty Thompson
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ï»¿Absolchtely outstanding! I envy your experience at the park, but I know what you mean about other senses pulling us deeply into an experience. Keep these posts coming, girlfriend. Bonnie Spillman
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