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9/11 memorial plaza in N.Y. opens to public
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) — The plot of land known for a decade as “the pile,” ”the pit” and “ground zero” opened to the public Monday for the first time since that terrible morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, transformed into a memorial consisting of two serene reflecting pools ringed by the chiseled-in-bronze names of the nearly 3,000 souls lost.
The 9/11 memorial plaza opened its gates at 10 a.m. under tight, airport-style security. Visitors were allowed to walk among hundreds of white oak trees on the 8-acre site and gaze at the water on the exact spots where the World Trade Center’s twin towers stood.
Visitors also will be able to run their fingers over the names of the 2,977 people killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, as well as the six who died in the bombing of the trade center in 1993. Electronic directories with a “Find a Name” button will help people locate their loved ones.
The memorial plaza opened to the families of the victims for the first time on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Sufia Simjee of Baltimore traveled to New York to mourn her cousin, Nasima H. Simjee, a financial analyst killed on Sept. 11. She said family members never received Nasima’s remains; now, at least, they have a place to leave flowers.
“It gives us a place to honor her,” she said.
Although thousands of construction workers have come and gone from the site over the years, Monday marked the first time that ordinary Americans without a badge, a press pass or a hard hat were able to walk the grounds where the victims were once entombed in a mountain of smoking rubble.
“For the vast majority of the world, the images that they remember from this site are very difficult. It’s the recovery period; it’s seeing those images of the towers falling. So when they come on now and see this place that’s been transformed into a place of beauty, it’s exciting,” memorial president Joe Daniels said Monday before the memorial opened.
Admission is free, but access will be tightly controlled. Visitors need to obtain passes in advance, allowing them to enter at a specified time. No more than about 1,500 at a time will be allowed in.
Visitors will have to empty their pockets, walk through a metal detector, and send their handbags and backpacks through an X-ray machine.
About 7,000 people were issued tickets for opening day. Some 400,000 have reserved tickets for the coming months, Mr. Daniels said.
Much of the memorial complex is still under construction, including the museum portion. The museum pavilion, a tilting structure that evokes the sections of the trade center facade that remained standing after the towers fell, is scheduled to open on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.
Eventually, visitors to the underground portion of the complex will be able to gaze at such sights as the giant slurry wall, built to keep the Hudson River from flooding the trade center’s foundations, and the survivor’s staircase that allowed so many people to flee to safety.
But seeing the names was enough for many of the families.
“It breaks me up,” said David Martinez, who watched the attacks from his office in Manhattan and later learned that he had lost a cousin and a brother, one in each tower.
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