Obama opens 9/11 Memorial Museum
By Jonathan Lemire And Jennifer Peltz, AP
May 16, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
NEW YORK--At the dedication of the Sept. 11 museum, President Barack Obama said no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States and the true spirit of that terrible day is love, compassion and sacrifice.
"Nothing can ever break us," Obama said at the dedication in New York for the National September 11 Memorial Museum. He said this museum tells the story of 9/11 so that future generations will never forget.
Obama said it's a moment to reflect on the true spirit of 9/11 and enshrine it forever in the nation's heart. He praised the men and women who helped save lives in the attack, including those who gave their lives in the effort.
He said the deceased live on in us and in their friends and families.
Moments earlier, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama toured the museum, viewing a memorial wall with photos of victims and a mangled fire truck, ahead of a ceremony marking its opening.
Obama walked quietly through an expansive hall with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with the first lady, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following behind them.
Hundreds of dignitaries and Sept. 11 victims' relatives, survivors and rescuers were there to view the museum built to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attack, as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The museum opens to the public May 21.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York Gov. George Pataki were among those attending, as was actor Robert De Niro, a museum board member.
By turns chilling and heartbreaking, the ground zero museum leads people on an unsettling journey through the terrorist attacks, with forays into their lead up and legacy.
There are scenes of horror, including videos of the skyscrapers collapsing and people falling from them. But there also are symbols of heroism, ranging from damaged fire trucks to the wristwatch of one of the airline passengers who confronted the hijackers.
"You won't walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way," museum President Joe Daniels said Wednesday.
The museum and memorial plaza above, which opened in 2011, were built for US$700 million in donations and tax dollars. Work on the museum was marked by construction problems, financial squabbles and disputes over its content and the appropriate way to honor the dead, but its leaders see it as a monument to unity and resilience.
And its opening is prompting reflection from presidents and the everyday people whose lives were changed by the attacks. Former President George W. Bush issued a statement Wednesday saying the museum "will help ensure that our nation remembers the lessons of Sept. 11."
Visitors start in an airy pavilion where the rusted tops of two of the World Trade Center's trident-shaped columns shoot upward. From there, museumgoers descend stairs and ramps, passing through a dark corridor filled with the voices of people remembering the day and past the battered "survivors' staircase" that hundreds used to escape the burning towers.