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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Hawkeyes take in perspective at 9/11 memorials

By Marc Morehouse, The Gazette | Dec 27, 2017

NEW YORK — There’s a major difference between tourism and observance. In New York and with the 9/11 memorials, the tourist part melts away quickly.

This wasn’t lost on the Hawkeyes on Monday, when the team visited One World Observatory and National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

You see tons of concrete and steel from the One World Observatory. Inlets from the Atlantic Ocean curl in and out of the city. At 102 floors, you can see the Statue of Liberty, but you have to know where to look.

The Iowa group stayed together for this part, but there was no idle chatter. They greeted the view with silent awe. They are, after all, probably looking at more concrete and steel than they’ve ever seen in their lives.

The majority of this football team was in or around kindergarten age when 9/11 happened in 2001. They were young, and so the memories are faint.

“I remember the TV being on and not much after that,” senior linebacker Bo Bower said. “But obviously being here, every American should experience this. Going to the Memorial and the lives that were impacted there on that day and after and service members, people who joined the military and went overseas and fought, it’s kind of unreal and it’s very, very humbling.”

The view from the One World Observatory takes your breath away. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum does the same in a different way.

The collection of artifacts is astounding. A mangled firetruck. Doors from a New York Police Department car and the New York Medical Examiner. Girders are still in the ground. There’s a set of stairs that’s almost normal in one spot and then chipped and broken by tragedy.

The “In Memoriam” room has a color photo of each and every one of the victims. There are other personal artifacts, including recordings of final phone calls and messages.

Each area has a place where quotes and factlets are projected onto the walls.

“I didn’t want the day to end, terrible as it was ... It was still a day I shared with Sean.” That quote is from Beverly Eckert, whose husband, Sean Paul Rooney, was killed during 9/11.

During the One World visit, the Iowa group stuck together for the most part. At the Memorial & Museum, a lot of players went off on their own.

“I just broke off by myself, just to take in how big of an event that was and how many people were affected that day,” junior safety Jake Gervase said. “I was pretty young, I was in kindergarten. I kind of remember where I was, but it was an experience for us to be able to see this.”

Firetruck Ladder 3 is on display. The red, yellow and white paint still gleam in small spots, but mostly the truck is burned out and mangled. A portion of the communications antenna that distinguished the north tower lies on its side, it’s filled with bolts still secured, shredded wires and cables reaching nowhere.

“It was humbling,” guard Keegan Render said. “I was in kindergarten. I remember hearing and seeing stories when it first happened. I never really knew all of the stories or all of the news coverage. It’s surreal how many people were just walking on the streets and looked up and saw it happening. It takes you back.”

There are several pictures of firefighters walking up the stairs of the towers and people on their left running for their lives.

“It was great to see the buildings and what they have there now,” Gervase said, “and to pay our respects to everyone who was affected by it.”

There are nearly 3,000 names inscribed into the bronze railings around the memorial pools where the towers once stood. On Monday, a white rose was stuck in the name Jordan Lopez.

Monday’s winds were brisk and the temperature was 1. The white rose moved with the wind, but it wasn’t going anywhere.

“You can type in names and I did that with his,” Bower said. “I put that name to a face. That was kind of surreal.”

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