Obama opens 9/11 memorial, a 'sacred place of healing and hope'

Thu May 15, 2014 12:22pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Barack Obama led an emotional dedication on Thursday 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 tragedy.

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 building.

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.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L), former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L), first lady Michelle Obama (2nd R), former U.S. President Bill Clinton (R) and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton look at the faces of those who died during the 9/11 attacks, at the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque