Kids growing up in New York City have reminders of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy over every shoulder.
Every firehouse has names on the outside honoring lives lost on that day. Plaques across the city memorialize men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who went off to work, but never came home.
All these are reasons why I did not hesitate to bring my own children with me to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan.
We were feeling the heaviness of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum just while waiting outside. Upon entering, we were 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.
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 9/11 Memorial and 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 Sept. 11 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 get information about having that discussion from the museum’s website.
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 two 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 and Museum hours, tickets:
9/11 Memorial: Daily 7:30 a.m. — 9 p.m.
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.
A version of this first appeared on One Good Dad. Photos: Jason Greene