Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance at Ground Zero

While waiting in line at the 9-11 Memorial in New York, I glanced at my Smartphone and saw this week’s photo theme.  I can think of no better place than Ground Zero to document the endurance of the human spirit.

The 9-11 Memorial is powerful and very moving.  In fact, as we entered the building and descended the stairs which brought us far below the earth, the emotions of that day and the following weeks came back in a rush.   We stared in silence at a column of steel–one of the remaining girders of the Twin Towers.

9 11 Descent

9 11 Descent

We walked past another steel girder, warped from the heat and pressure.  In a flash, we went back to that crisp, clear fall morning when the news broke that the first tower was struck by a plane.  And how we watched the TV for hours,  struggling to fully comprehend the enormity of the destruction and death.

Twisted Steel 9-11

Twisted Steel 9-11

It is still almost incomprehensible even now, thirteen years later.  I am still trying to understand the terrorist mentality and how religious principles can be distorted to justify killing others.

9-11 Looking Up

9-11 Looking Up

At the same time, we saw testaments of hope, kindness and remarkable courage: ordinary people who risked their lives to help others.

9/11 Firetruck

9/11 Firetruck

And people who survived despite the odds.  In the B Stairwell of the North Tower, 16 people crawled to safety down the last remaining staircase, pictured here.

Remnants of Staircase in Tower 2

Remnants of Staircase in Tower 2

I took heart too as I joined the people milling around the grounds by the 2 waterfalls marking the site of the original towers.

Infinity Pool and Waterfall, Ground Zero

Infinity Pool and Waterfall, Ground Zero

We lingered near a pear tree that survived the blast at ground zero.   Its lone flowering branch caught the attention of rescue workers in the days and weeks following the attacks.  Transplanted and nursed back to health, the pear tree was returned to its original site and renamed the “Survivor Tree.”  (To view a short clip about the tree, click here.)  As you can see, the lower portion of the tree is covered with thick, tough bark, as a protective response to the bomb blast.  But the new shoots in the upper tree are markedly different.  Their bark is smoother and a lighter color.

The Survivor Tree, Ground Zero

The Survivor Tree, Ground Zero

For me, this tree is a symbol of the endurance of the human spirit.  It also reminds me of the process of regeneration after hardship.  As survivors of adversity, we need to first grow “tough skin,” but that isn’t enough.  For new shoots to grow, for hope to flower, we need to take risks.  We need to put aside our anger and nurture the seeds of hope, of forgiveness, of kindness, of goodness within us.  In the face of evil, it is our obligation and our responsibility to do good, so evil will not triumph.  This is one of the themes I explore in my writing.  It is my way of bringing a little more light into the world.   What have you done?  What would you like to do?

Click on the links below to see some memorable interpretations of this week’s theme:

17 replies »

  1. I love it. thanks for sharing this beautiful art work and your beautiful words of hope and pearls of wisdom about the pear tree:

    “For me, this tree is a symbol of the endurance of the human spirit. It also reminds me of the process of regeneration after hardship. As survivors of adversity, we need to first grow “tough skin,” but that isn’t enough. For new shoots to grow, for hope to flower, we need to take risks. We need to put aside our anger and nurture the seeds of hope, of forgiveness, of kindness, of goodness within us. In the face of evil, it is our obligation and our responsibility to do good, so evil will not triumph.”

    Thanks so much.
    Maria

    Like

  2. You’re very welcome, Northumbrianlight! It is very moving. I saw the site several times right after 9-11 and again this past week. It’s a wonderful memorial to those who died and those who survived. Thanks for your thoughts!–Patti

    Like

  3. Hi Patti; First, thanks very much for featuring my post; much appreciated. Second, I very nearly wrote a similar post to yours a month ago, but my iphone 4 photos of the museum fell far short of a worthy representation. You have captured the spirit of the museum in much the same way as I would have described it. Your photos display some of the most important elements and your interpretation of it’s symbolism of endurance and of hope are spot on. It’s an amazing experience and anyone who goes to NYC should take a day and cover it. It definitely put me right back at that horrid day in extremely well-documented and tastefully presented detail. It’s a treasure as is the memorial, and you’ve portrayed it beautifully.

    Like

  4. Hi Tina. You’ve very welcome for the link to your post! And thanks so much for your kind words about my photos and interpretation. It was such a moving experience. I was a bit surprised how much it shook me–despite the 13 intervening years. Yes, the museum is an important reminder of that day and reminds me of how we need to do good despite (and maybe even because of) the evil in the world. Thanks again! –Patti

    Like

    • You too, Happyface! I think that day is burned into our memories. We all know exactly what we were doing at the moment we heard the news. So glad you liked the part about the Survivor Tree. I didn’t know about it until I visited the site last week. It seemed to symbolize hope even in the most dire of circumstances. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!–Patti

      Like

  5. Thanks for the kind link to my post, Patti. But more importantly, thank you for sharing your experiences at the 9-11 Memorial. It must be overpoweringly emotional, even after all this time. Just as the rescue workers obviously did, I do so love the pear tree as a symbol of endurance and hope.

    Like

    • You’re welcome, Jenny! It was amazingly emotional. Almost overpowering. I didn’t expect that. Still, it was very uplifting to see this remarkable tribute to those who died and those who sacrificed so much to help others. The pear tree is the perfect metaphor for survival despite tremendous odds. I appreciate hearing your thoughts!–Patti

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks so much, Michiko. I can’t quite get over how many times the weekly photo challenge fits in with whatever is happening in my life that week! The pear tree is my favorite image of that visit too. –Patti

    Like

Don't Be Shy! Drop Me A Line.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s