12/04/2011 01:15 pm ET | Updated Feb 03, 2012

PHOTOS: September 11 Memorial & Museum

There are few places in New York City where a person feels immersed in an atmosphere of tranquility and serenity. The new September 11 Memorial is one of them. Uniquely evocative with a thoughtful layout that is a fitting reminder of the tragedy that took place there over a decade ago, one can become overwhelmed by the totality of the memorial. Deeply etched into the granite coating, every letter of every name serves as a vivid and touching reminder. The peaceful rhythms of cascading water seem to echo around the reflecting pools, drowning out the noise of the lively and renewed city sprouting up around it, and forcing you into a state of contemplation. The beauty and symbolism of the memorial can leave you breathless.

Mesmerized by the reflecting pools, my thoughts wandered back 10 years earlier to my world as a five-year-old. In September 2001, I was starting a new chapter of my young life -- entering kindergarten. While I was becoming acquainted with a new environment and starting my school career, I was unaware that other, larger pages of history were being turned. Now, I realize the subtleties of that day. For one, I recall that it was my teacher Lisa's birthday and she was jubilant that September 11 morning yet seemed surprisingly lethargic towards day's end. Lisa's otherwise smiley face grew dim as a stranger entered the room and whispered into her ear that day -- she also attempted to shut out the stench emanating from the destroyed towers by closing the windows tightly, creating a stifling interior climate. I was too preoccupied with my own childlike concerns to find any meaning from such abnormalities. Yet, by September 12, 2001, everything had changed.

And 10 years later, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a fitting testament to all those who perished and were forever affected by the tragic events of that terrible day.

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