The 9/11 museum at ground zero in New York opened to victims' families, first responders and recovery workers today, as President Obama recalled the heroism and sacrifices made by those who died in the attacks more than 12 years ago
Today, as we dedicated the National September 11 Memorial Museum, we took a major step in fulfilling a solemn commitment to ensure that an important part of American history is never forgotten.
The dedication began with a ceremony in the Museum's Foundation Hall with The President of the United States and other elected officials joining in. The first visitors to the museum were hundreds of 9/11 family members, first responders, recovery workers, survivors, and others whose experiences are the very foundation of this museum.
President Obama opened the dedication.
President Barack Obama praised the new Sept. 11 museum today as "a sacred place of healing and of hope" that captures both the story and the spirit of heroism and helpfulness that followed the attacks.
"It's an honor to join in your memories, to recall and to reflect, but above all to reaffirm the true spirit of 9/11 — love, compassion, sacrifice — and to enshrine it forever in the heart of our nation," he told an audience of victims' relatives, survivors, rescuers and recovery workers at the ground zero museum's dedication ceremony.
"Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us. Nothing can change who we are as Americans."
Obama listens to victims’ stories.
After viewing the exhibits, including a mangled fire truck and a memorial wall with photos of victims, the president touched on some of the many stories of courage amid the chaos: the passengers who stormed a hijacked plane's cockpit over a Pennsylvania field and first responders who rushed into the burning twin towers. He also honored military members "who have served with honor in more than a decade of war."
Especially moving was the story of Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old World Trade Center worker and former volunteer firefighter who became known as "the man in the red bandanna" after he led other workers to safety from the trade center's stricken south tower. He died in the tower's collapse.
One of his red bandannas is showcased in the museum, and Crowther's mother, Alison, told the audience she hoped it would remind visitors "how people helped each other that day, and that they will be inspired to do the same in ways both big and small. This is the true legacy of Sept. 11."
Dignitaries walked the hallowed hall with reverence.
Before the ceremony, Obama walked quietly through an expansive hall with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. First lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following behind them.
The museum, which commemorates the 2001 terrorist attack, as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, opens to the public on May 21, 2014. The museum at ground zero, in what was the World Trade Center basement, leads people on an unsettling journey through the terrorist attacks, with forays into their lead up and legacy.
Scenes of horror and heroics.
At the base level — 70 feet below ground , there are scenes of horror, including videos of the skyscrapers collapsing and people falling from them -- one of several areas of the museum that are tucked away in alcoves, behind posted warnings. The museum also has what it calls "early exits," where visitors can leave if they get overwhelmed.
There are also symbols of heroism, like the bandanna, damaged fire trucks and the wristwatch of one of the airline passengers who confronted the hijackers, fragments of planes, a set of keys to the trade center, a teddy bear left at the impromptu memorials that arose after the attacks, the dust-covered shoes of those who fled the skyscrapers' collapse, emergency radio transmissions and office workers calling loved ones, even a recording of an astronaut solemnly describing the smoke plume from the International Space Station.
Sprinkled in are factoids about the 19 hijackers, including photos of them on an inconspicuous panel.
No act of terror can match the strength of U.S.
The museum and the memorial plaza above, which opened in 2011, were built for $700 million in donations and tax dollars. Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor stepped in to save both projects when they were foundering several years ago, said this: “For 3,000 families, it is a place to grieve. But for the rest of the city, state, country and the world… this is the way to educate the next generation that freedom isn’t free.”
On the wall behind which the unidentified human remains will be hidden, is a quote from Virgil which sums it all up:
“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
The 9/11 Museum dedication ceremony poignantly concluded with The New York Philharmonic playing Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."
God bless these victims and volunteers and God bless America.
Nancy Burban 2014