BLACKFOOT – A little over a week ago, Mountain View Middle School teacher Bekki Mangum and Blackfoot artist Willie Preacher were touring the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
“It’s a trip I would never have gone on without Bekki,” Preacher said.
Mangum said the adventure started last May when Preacher won two airline tickets to anywhere in the United States. After some discussion, the couple settled on a trip to the Memorial.
The Memorial is a national tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,983 people killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Feb. 26, 1993.
“We made reservations to tour the 9/11 Memorial about six weeks ahead,” Mangum said. “Our tickets were for 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9.
"Security was high," she said. "The procedures were similar to going through airport security.
"I was actually glad those procedures were in place," Mangum said.
“There’s a limit on the number of visitors that are allowed into the site each hour,” she said, "so the crowds were not overwhelming.
"The weather was beautiful with clear blue skies," said Mangum. "We were behind this woman who was explaining to her children that the sky was the exact same color as on 9/11.
"After hearing her, all I could picture was dust clouds," Mangum said. "Knowing that they did not recover all the bodies helped to emphasize we were on sacred ground. It added to the whole expereince. Seeing all the names insures they will never be forgotten.
"The memorial is beautifully created," she said. "The whole thing is peaceful.
"It's pretty amazing that it is peaceful because the memorial is right next to Wall Street with all the Occupy Wall Street people," Mangum said. "We went to a Burger King nearby so we could get lunch and use the bathroom. It obviously was a favorite place of the Occupy Wall Street crowd because we would not have been able to do anything else if we waited to use the lavatory."
Preacher said, "It was awesome with lots of people.
"Seeing the memorial brought back all the memories of that day," he said. "[Ten years ago,] I was here in Idaho preparing to making a presentation on earthquakes at Fort Hall with the Department of Energy.
"It brought back all the emotions and pain and everything else involved," Preacher said.
The two waterfalls and pools are placed at the site of the foundations of the two towers of the World Trade Center.
"There a a lot of people who are still unaccounted for at the site, he said. "It made it sacred ground."
The couple also visited sites in Massachusetts—Salem, Plymouth Rock and Boston.
"Plymouth Rock is a small rock," Preacher said. "I tried to imagine what the tribes thought who greeted them.
"This is where the nation became a nation," he said. "All the tribes that were there have been 'rubbed out.' The only thing that's left of the Indian people who were there are names of towns and sites."
"I'm excited to bring home information to help my students understand our history," said Mangum.