My original version of this post got killed when chrome crashed for about half a second, so I'm hoping this round does the day justice still.
Day 3 was easily one of my top two favorite days of our whole trip. After a long, good night of sleep the night before, we woke up ready to take on the city! First, we headed to Rockefeller Center. We had purchased the CityPass, which included admission to the Top of the Rock. I was probably more excited about going to the top of the Rock than I was going to the top of the Empire State Building, because the view you get from the top of the rock is the view they show at the beginning of all the movies that are set in New York. It's kind of iconic, so I was pretty excited about it! Up there, you can see all of Central Park and downtown, but the Central Park view is the view I loved the most. I could have stayed up there forever. From there, we decided to go to the 9/11 Memorial, first stopping at Magnolia Bakery for some treats (a scone for me, muffin for Brandon).
Our CityPass also included admission to the 9/11 Museum, and I am so grateful that we had decided to go. The first thing we did when we went inside was head upstairs to watch two videos. The first video talked about the impact that 9/11 had on the U.S., the UK, and Pakistan. The second was a video of the events of 9/11, and George W. Bush and Condaleezza Rice's memories from the day. The videos were a good way to start of the tour; they really set the tone for what we were about to see. I was also glad that I had remembered to pack tissues.
Walking through the museum, I had a lot of the same feelings that I'd had at the Holocaust Museum, only stronger. I think it was because I remember that day in pretty vivid detail, which is interesting, because I don't remember much else about the fifth grade besides that day. I also have been alive to witness the after effects of that day, which makes my feelings about it that much stronger. We saw pieces of the twin towers that had been shred by the airplanes. We read names of those who lost their lives. We saw pictures of faces that were last seen that day. It was all just really heavy.
I know I wrote a lot about this in my DC posts, but walking through the museum and remembering 9/11 just made me so sad for how much hate there is in the world. In one of the videos, George W. Bush talked about how after the event, there was such strong unity among the people in our nation that it was both incredible and sad at the same time. It's sad to watch a nation crumble and struggle to keep each other up, but it's incredible to see what we can do for each other if we have enough love in our hearts. He also spoke about how after the event, New York asked New Jersey for anyone with a boat to come help evacuate people. They evacuate 500,000 people in nine hours, solely by boat. That's roughly 55,500 people per hour. I wrote this the first time I wrote the post and I'm writing it again now, but it makes me cry to think of the people that dropped everything to go help those in need. How selfless it was of them to go help thousands upon thousands of people in a time of crisis. The unity and compassion we felt across the country is something we should feel every day. We do feel it, every time a tragedy happens somewhere in our country or somewhere else in the world. We feel it each year on the anniversary of 9/11, as we recall and rewatch footage of the buildings burning and falling to the ground. I remember after 9/11 how high and proudly the American flag was flown from every house, every building, even cars. Everyone was a little nicer, a little more considerate, and a little more patriotic. A sad and incredible outcome from such an awful tragedy.
After our time in the museum, we went out to the reflecting pools that are the footprints of where the two buildings used to be. The memorial is so perfect; I can't describe the level of solemnity and peace that could be felt there. Reading the names around the pools, I couldn't imagine being outside the buildings, watching debris and people and then the buildings themselves fall onto the very places we stood, let alone being inside the building. Someone told me that the volunteers that work at the museum are family members of those that lost their lives on 9/11. The museum and the memorial are such a beautiful tribute to the those people; I like to think that the family volunteers feel a special, personal meaning when they are there, thinking about the loved one they lost.
I bought a magnet of the Survivor Tree, the one tree on the grounds that survived the damage. The tree is beautiful, but I bought the magnet because I think the tree represents so much more than just itself. Like the tree, our country survived the damage. We had to be well cared for and nursed back to health, but we're strong today. We grew stronger from the ashes. They can fly planes into our buildings. They can't commit act after act of terror and violence. But they can't break us. We're strong, and we're even stronger when we need to be, when we band together as not just individuals with differences, but individuals that understand what it means to be an American, and just how much that one similarity can strengthen us in the face of adversity.
Our visit to the museum and memorial set a sort of solemn undertone for the rest of the day, but I am so glad we decided to go on this day. I'm happy that I get to lump it in with all the other things we did on my favorite day.
After the museum, we went back to Times Square for lunch. Alycia goes to New York frequently, so she recommended that we go to Ellen's Stardust Diner. All the waiters and waitresses there are aspiring Broadway actors, so while they are working, they take turns singing, as they are doing their job! Our waitress sang Defying Gravity from Wicked, and it almost made me cry! It was super fun. The picture of me at the restaurant shows the booth behind me, that's where the waiters would stand and sing a lot of the time! And the food was incredible too. Brandon had mac and cheese, his choice food for the trip, and I had a huge burger, and we shared a chocolate milkshake that had fudge, brownie pieces, and Count Chocula cereal in it. It was incredible.
We had some time before our show that night, so we first went to Grand Central Station, just to see it (and it is indeed grand) and then to Washington Square park to see the mini Arc de Triomphe and just to relax for a bit. It was another not so humid day, so we found a bench in the shade and hung out until it was time to go back to Times Square for The Lion King! It was so so so good! Even though we already knew the story, the music, choreography, acting, and costumes (especially the costumes) made it that much better. The puppetry effects on the costumes were amazing. So much that during intermission, Brandon actually googled information about the costumes.
It was dark after the show, so on our way to the subway, we got to walk through a brightly lit, crowded Times Square. It was like the ultimate touristy end to a fantastic day.