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Visiting the World Trade Center Memorial

Today we take a moment to reflect on the event that changed us 13 years ago.

I visited the 9/11 Memorial.

After walking through security like I was boarding a plane, I entered the courtyard. I arrived in a group, but broke off on my own. I felt I should walk this memorial alone.world_trade_center_memorial_thumb

Two great pools of water sat in the courtyard. Water poured down one level, creating soft walls. Then it poured down a second level and into a hole, the bottom unseen.

Each pool is where the buildings belonged, those buildings now crumbled and gone.

Around each pool is a low bronze wall, on which is inscribed the names of people killed on 9/11. Victims of New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville are on the wall.

I walked the memorial, running my fingers over the names. Then I noticed something written. Written was a woman’s name killed on 9/11, and attached to her name were the words, “and her unborn child.”

Oh, the horror. My eyes widened. Then I noticed them again. And a third time. Many more times. My heart dropped.

I was in New York City for a workshop on the topic of Story. We were considering the elements of story that made movies great. We were hoping to learn something with which to live out our own stories with intention and courage. But these unborn children didn’t get much of a story; they ended barely after they began. It isn’t fair to die in your mother’s womb.

Sadness overtook me. I leaned into this thick moment at the memorial. What hope could I find?

Then, as afternoon turned to evening, and the New York sky prepared for sunset, I could see light. Yellow brightness burst from behind the letters, lighting up the names. You couldn’t see the light in the daytime, but only in the dark. There at the memorial I saw these unborn children lit up, and my heart turned to thanksgiving.

I felt grateful that these unborn children were counted worthy to be named.

For this memorial to be created, name upon name would be engraved on the bronze. And to create name upon name, it would be letter by letter inscribed one-at-a-time. Do you get this? You would pay by the letter to name these unborn children. But someone did, gloriously paid for each letter. These children mattered, as all children do.

So I decided to create my own memorial–I committed to live out my story in full. Because they didn’t get to. 

Will you do the same?