The new National September 11 Memorial Museum opened in May. The museum is located beside the remnants of New York’s twin towers.
On opening day, flags outside were at hall-staff on the World Trade Center memorial plaza, where bronze panels bear the engraved names on the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in New York, Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania in 2003, and in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
About 700 guests attended the somber ceremony held in the museums Foundation Hall. During the ceremony, elected officials, survivors and rescue workers rose one by one to talk about the victims and what was left behind.
In attendance was President Obama. “No act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country” he told the audience during the dedication ceremony.
In his remarks, Obama singled out the heroism of Welles Crowther, a young man with a red bandana who helped save people in the south tower before it collapsed, killing him. His identity was long unknown until months later when his mother read an article about the mysterious savior with the bandana.
Michael Bloomberg hosted the event, as chairman of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, and described the museum as “a testament to the resilience, the courage and the compassion of the human spirit.”
Foundation Hall is dominated by a giant slurry wall – the underground construction that survived the initial attacks and held back the waters of the Hudson River after the towers collapsed. In the hall’s center is the Last Column, the final steel beam to be removed from ground zero.
There have been many controversies surrounding the museum. A video exhibit about the roots of the attack, which includes the terms “Islamist” and “jihadist,” was criticized by an advisory group made up of clergy members from different faiths who claimed that the video presented a prejudiced view of Islam. Ultimately, the chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation insisted that the video was objective.
Some families are unhappy that the unidentified remains of the victims are stored in the same building as the museum in a specially built repository. The 7,930 unidentified remains were moved to the repository in a ceremonial transfer, alongside some remains that have been identified but that families chose to have stored there.
Museum and city officials say that the repository is under the jurisdiction of the New York City medical examiner’s office. The repository is separated from the museum by a wall, and will not be open to the general public. It will, however, be open to victim’s relatives who will be able to visit a reflection room there.