My name is Joey Cooke, and I am a senior interpretive guide at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. I’ve worked for the Memorial and Museum for nearly eight years now, and in my time, I’ve been asked two questions almost every day: where were you on 9/11, and what lessons can we learn from that day.
I was 11 years old sitting in my sixth-grade science class about an hour north of the World Trade Center when our teacher told us two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers. Right away my school went on a full lockdown. Growing up just outside of New York City, there were a lot of students in my school whose parents worked at the World Trade Center, and the rest of the day was filled with a sense of fear of what was coming next.
When people ask me the biggest lesson I took away from 9/11, I say, “There’s so much good in this world.” During the 102 minutes that the attacks took place, we saw absolute horrors and truly the worst of humanity, but we also saw the best. Thousands of people from all over the country and all over the world poured into lower Manhattan to help at Ground Zero, and following the attacks people we kinder to each other. We still see it today. People come from all over the world to visit the Memorial and Museum and when they’re here, the barriers we build up around ourselves come down. People are kinder to each other; they see that we’re all the same and still trying to process what happened that day.
Right now, we are living through another trying, and at moments, scary time in human history. This past year has been a very challenging year for so many people. A lot of us have lost someone we care about, and we have all had to adjust to a whole new world. But I keep returning to what I see every day in the Museum.
Some thought New York City would never recover from 9/11, but it did, and it came back stronger than before. We will come through the challenges we face today, we’ll bear the scars, we’ll remember the ones we lost, but we will come through it. Because even though we live in a world where bad things do happen, there is so much more good that connects us.
By Joey Cooke, Interpretive Museum Guide, 9/11 Memorial & Museum