Remnants of twin towers find role in London 9/11 memorial

London Mayor Boris Johnson unveils "After 9/11" in Battersea Park in London on Monday. "It is only if we and our children properly remember and understand 9/11 that we can make sure that nothing like it ever happens again," he said. (Associated Press)London Mayor Boris Johnson unveils “After 9/11” in Battersea Park in London on Monday. “It is only if we and our children properly remember and understand 9/11 that we can make sure that nothing like it ever happens again,” he said. (Associated Press)
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LONDON — The grass-carpeted grove of trees just inside the Rosary Gate of Battersea Park is known as the American Ground. When the park was created in the 1850s, it was planted with North American trees and shrubs.

On Monday, they were joined by another piece of America, a 28-foot twisted tower of steel once part of New York City’s twin towers.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said during an unveiling ceremony that the Sept. 11, 2001, attack “was not just an attack on buildings, but on our two cities and what they jointly represent.”

Sixty-seven Britons died on Sept. 11, more than in any terrorist attack in the United Kingdom.

“It is only if we and our children properly remember and understand 9/11 that we can make sure that nothing like it ever happens again,” Mr. Johnson said.

The sculpture, by New York artist Miya Ando, consists of three enmeshed girders and a steel plate. Titled “After 9/11,” the artwork was commissioned by the 911 London Project, an educational charity dedicated to helping students understand what happened 10 years ago.

“I wanted to create something that would give light back into the community,” Ms. Ando said.

She meant that literally and figuratively.

While she left the warped steel in the same shape and condition in which she found it, she spent six months polishing and sanding the steel plate until it was mirror-smooth.

“I thought it was a poetic way to express transformation,” she said. “Not only are we having the piece stand upright in a gesture of resilience, but to create something serene and light.”

Thomas Von Essen, the fire commissioner of New York at the time of the attacks, fought back tears as he gazed at the memorial.

“I look at it, and I don’t see beauty. I see pain,” he said. “I see steel that destroyed a lot of lives.”

Mr. Von Essen lost 343 firefighters in the towers. He said it is important to remember, despite the grief.

Families of the British victims were not represented at the unveiling.

The unveiling also marked the launch of the 911 London Project’s educational program - a website that gives teachers the resources to explore the causes, experiences and consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Created by the Institute of Education at the University of London, the website is designed to be used across the secondary curriculum through subjects including English, history, art, citizenship and religious education.

The educational program is the brainchild of Peter Rosengard, chairman of the 911 London Project.

After reading a newspaper article mentioning that 2,000 recovered pieces of the twin towers were being kept in a giant hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport, he thought London might get a piece to create a memorial.

Mr. Rosengard texted the mayor and, to his surprise, Mr. Johnson texted back immediately: “YES!!!”

A survey conducted by Mr. Rosengard’s organization found widespread ignorance of the attacks among schoolchildren.

One child said, “September 11? Wasn’t that retaliation for Afghanistan?”

Another thought the attacks were “about trade.”

Sept. 11 wasn’t being taught in any school because teachers didn’t know how to teach it, but 90 percent of those surveyed said they want to include it in their lesson plans.

“Our program is about telling young people ages 11 to 16 what happened - its causes, its consequences,” said Mr. Rosengard. “Children have to understand that it wasn’t a video game. It could have been their mums, their dads, their brother or sister murdered by terrorists.”

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