There are 9/11 reminders all over New York City. There’s the skyline that was altered that tragic day. Every firehouse in the city has names on the outside honoring lives lost. Plaques across the city memorialize men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who went off to work, but never came home. Kids growing up in New York City have these reminders over each shoulder. Which is why I did not hesitate in bringing them with me to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
We were feeling the heaviness of the museum while waiting outside and I gave the youngest instructions on how to behave, knowing full well they wouldn’t listen once inside. Upon entering, I was greeted by a smiling employee. She bent down and talked to my 6-year-old and engaged him in a short conversation. She then gave me the rundown of places I might want to avoid with the kids. We were handed a brochure on how to talk to kids about what happened that day.
As I walked through the museum, I told them about how I felt. How we all felt. What we knew and didn’t. How people were glued to their TV sets. We looked at the massive damaged fire truck and heard and read stories of bravery. We looked at beams and watched news footage. All of us were somber and quiet.
And then, the 2-year-old bolted. She was done being quiet and wanted to run. She wanted to escape the museum and be free from constraints. Ditching my group, I ran after her. A not-so-happy security guard yelled at me and told me to keep her close. I informed him I was doing my best. He muttered something under his breath as we walked away.
Most of the museum is intense but manageable with kids. We walked and talked throughout the museum, but stopped just shy of going into an area about those who jumped from the Twin Towers. I did not enter and not because I was with kids, but because I didn’t want to watch the footage and see the photos. I remember them from that day and are still etched in my memory.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a place that will stay with you long after you leave. It is an important place and one that should be visited. There are many stories that might cause nightmares in the young, but there is hope found in the museum as well. Stories of people coming together. Stories of brave souls who prioritized other’s lives above their own.
My kids and I talked before, during, and after visiting the museum. It is still an ongoing discussion. One that happens after each firehouse is passed and, on every September 11th, when the lights flow up to the heavens.
If you are planning on taking kids, stop by the kiosk for a brochure on how to talk to kids about what happened. You can also click here before having that discussion.
Strollers are permitted in the museum, but it is easier in some areas to store the stroller and wear the child in a baby carrier.
I spent 2 hours at the museum but would have stayed longer if I was by myself. There are plenty of places to sit and I recommend bringing sketchbooks to help older kids experience the museum.
9/11 Memorial: Daily 7:30 am to 9 pm
9/11 Museum: Sun.–Thu., 9 a.m.–8 p.m. with last entry at 6 p.m.
Fri. and Sat., 9 a.m.–9 p.m. with last entry at 7 p.m.
To purchase tickets, click here.
For directions, click here.
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