By Brett Mulitz ’16
Among the stops made by Pope Francis on his visit to the United States was the 9/11 Museum in New York City in order to hold a prayer service in remembrance of those who had perished in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
At the beginning of summer, when ticket information for the event had been first announced, my father entered his name in the lottery to attend the prayer service. Although the lottery was open only to first responders like him, he had a slim chance of being chosen. Thousands helped during that fateful day in 2001, but only 1,000 would be picked to attend. My father, a New York City Police Officer, was at the World Trade Center when the attack occurred. He lost many friends that day, and I knew that it would mean so much to him if he got picked to attend the service. Luckily, in the beginning of September, he received an email stating that he had won a ticket and was able to bring a guest.
On the morning of September 25, we arrived at the museum and secured a spot alongside the South Memorial Pool, the location where Pope Francis would enter. We were in a great area to see his motorcade drive up and we were able to watch him walk into the museum. After his arrival, he walked with his security entourage towards the memorial pools to light a candle in remembrance of all who died on 9/11. Then he walked over to my dad’s friend who was sitting in a wheelchair, and blessed him. As that happened, two fighter jets flew above and made a cross with smoke in the sky. What an amazing sight! Afterwards, he went into the museum to hold a multi-religious prayer service. Listening to his words of peace, love, and hope encouraged all who were there, and we could feel his powerful presence.
After the prayer service, Pope Francis departed for his next stop while my dad and I paid our respects to all who were lost that day. It was my first time at the memorial, so it was a lot to take in for the short time I was there. We then ate lunch while waiting for the museum to open for the public to visit. Stretching 70 feet underground, the museum’s scope is hard to grasp from the outside. The many floors hold different items, from large beams and firetrucks to phones and watches that had belonged to the victims that perished that day.
All of these items really reminded me how tragic that day was and made me thankful to witness the papal visit with my father and live the life I live today.