MAY 15, 2014
This morning, after a long and arduous road, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City was dedicated and opened to the families and loved ones of those who perished on that devastating day.
President Barack Obama and Michelle, former Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Governor and Bill and Hilary Clinton sat amongst the crowd as survivors, family members, and dignitaries gave accounts, regards, and testimonies on the happenings of September 11, 2001. Mickey Kross, a former lieutenant for the NYPD who was trapped under the rubble, spoke amongst a band of fellow NYPD and Port Authority members who were trapped beside him. The singer LaChanze, who lost her husband, sang “Amazing Grace.”
President Obama highlighted the role the museum serves as a lasting remembrance for generations to come. “We tell their story so that generations yet unborn will never forget,” he remarked to the crowd, adding, “Those we lost live on in us.”
The dedication ceremony was located beside the 60-foot-high World Trade Center’s slurry wall of poured concrete, which withstood the strength of the Hudson River in the days following the attacks. Preventing what could have been a devastating flood, this wall serves as a symbol of resilience both in New York City and across the Nation.
This ceremony marks the first of a six-day period in which families may visit at their leisure prior to the opening to the public next Wednesday, May 21. In contrast to the National September 11 Memorial, which is above-ground and clearly visible from afar, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is almost entirely underground, perhaps pointing to the darkness surrounding the attacks.
The museum features two steel columns from the North Tower that, although damaged, demonstrate the enormity of the damage suffered from attacks. Visitors may hear voices and city noise recordings from the day of the attacks as they walk down hallways. “Missing” posters that had lined the city streets in the weeks and months following the attacks are projected onto the walls. There is a room of nearly 3,000 individuals who perished in the attacks, each of which can be pulled up individually on the touch screens. In an unseen area is a repository of nearly 14,000 unidentified or unclaimed remains. Perhaps most heart wrenching are the objects and voice recordings left behind by the individuals who perished.
Personal to the September 11th National Memorial Trail, two Board members – Thomas Heidenberger and Deborah Borza – suffered the loss of loved ones through the attacks. Heidenberger highlighted the importance of the Museum as a quiet place for families and friends, remarking, “There are some families who really never had any closure…and they really had no place to go… They have some place now to quietly sit and reflect not so much on their loss, but their loved one.” Borza is interested in the displays of pictures and artifacts, noting that she has provided pictures to the Museum. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she says.
David Brickley, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance noted that CNN’s Chris Cuomo observed that the Memorials are “Now threaded together in which they are intrinsically linked.” Brickley said “That’s what the “9/11 Trail” is all about. This was a fitting day to show once again our people’s resolve and resilience.”