On my daily run, I ran by the Pentagon this morning, and I visited the September 11 memorial there.
It's a large, gravel paved, open space with some concrete paths, and surrounded by planters with different grasses and shrubs.
Diagonnally striped across the space are narrow channels defined by strips of stainless steel set into the ground. The channels are each labelled with a year, starting with 1930 towards the back of the area and ending with 1998 at the front. In each channel, for each person who died, there is a four or five foot long raised section that looks as if the gravel surface of the ground were peeled up. Engraved on the end of the peeled up strip is the name of the person who died. Underneath each of these elevated sections is a small pool and fountain.
There were five children visiting the Pentagon that day. As I first walked into the space, and I saw the markers and I saw the years, when I kneeled down to look at the marker next to 1998, I cried.
The memorial was surprisingly effective at conveying the scope and scale of the tragedy. As I'm writing this, I'm recalling watching on television the live coverage of the events of September 11, 2001, and realizing that these memories were from nine years, two jobs, and three children ago. It feels like it's been both forever and just yesterday. Some things affect you so deeply, that you don't even recognize that everything has changed until you look back from a distance.