US President Barack Obama (L), former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2nd L), first lady Michelle Obama (3rd L), former president Bill Clinton (R) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) tour the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Barack Obama has led an emotional dedication of
a museum that commemorates the traumatic events of Sept. 11,
2001, built on the "ground zero" site of the twin towers that
fell that day.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, joined by Bill and Hillary
Clinton and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, toured
the museum, which includes artifacts from many of the nearly
3,000 people who died in the hijacked-plane attacks in New
York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"Here we tell their story so that generations yet unborn will
never forget," Obama said in dedicating a museum that he
called "this sacred place of healing and hope."
The ceremony was held in a cavernous, underground hall where
what remains of the foundation of the twin World Trade Center
towers can still be seen, along with a retaining wall that
survived the blasts.
In the center of the room, a 36-foot-high column covered with
posters of those missing after 9/11 and names of units of
fire and emergency workers who died responding to the
Obama singled out 9/11 victim Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old
equities trader known simply as a man wearing a red bandana
who saved a dozen lives on the South Tower's 78th floor. His
body was recovered at ground zero in 2002.
A red bandana of the type he wore that day is displayed at
the museum, donated by his mother, Allison, who spoke at the
ceremony along with Ling Young, a woman Welles led out of the
Also on display is the charred watch worn by Todd Beamer, the
software salesman who led a passenger revolt against the
hijackers on United Airlines flight 93 before it crashed into
a field near Shanksville.
The museum includes emotional telephone messages left for
loved ones by those who would die in the towers, and cockpit
recordings from the doomed planes.
During the tour, the Obamas walked through a hall with row
upon row of photos of those who perished: old, young, some in
firefighter and police uniforms, before entering a hall
inscribed with Virgil's "No day shall erase you from the
memory of time."
They paused beside what was left of a fire truck, scarred by
flames, its ladders twisted beyond recognition.
Obama said the memorial "reaffirms the true spirit of 9/11 -
love, compassion, sacrifice, and enshrines it forever in the
heart of our nation."
"I think all who come here will find it a profound and moving
experience," he said.
Obama noted that it was three years ago this month that "our
SEALS made sure that justice was done," a reference to the
secret U.S. mission he ordered that killed 9/11 mastermind
Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideaway.
"Nothing can ever break us. Nothing can change who we are as
Americans," Obama said.