Wordless Meaning

After visiting the New York Historical Society, Tom Jacobs contemplates the power of belongings:

Eventually I came upon a display of objects collected from the streets in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.  A shoe, a pack of cigarettes, a few scraps of letterheaded paper, a fireman’s oxygen tank, bits of twisted metal of inscrutable but portentous provenance.  Unexpectedly, and even against my better judgment, I found myself overwhelmed by a wash of powerful and contradictory feelings: sadness, anger, nationalism, and perhaps most of all: a deeply-felt connection to a moment in history and to the lives lost in the event (and to one in particular).  I felt weepy.  Actually weepy.  I cried a little bit.  In the presence of this display, material objects turned unsettlingly fluid, potent, and peculiar.