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Riches has given the museum the crushed helmet found next to his son’s body when it was unearthed six months after the attacks. He can ask for it back at any time, he notes, but he won’t — despite his frustration with the delays.

“Maybe 20 years from now, 50 years from now — they won’t know who I am, they won’t know who my son is,” Riches said. “But you know what? Some little kid is going to go in there and say, ‘Look at this, this fireman went in there to help people, and then he was crushed to death by these terrorists.’ … It’s a powerful message.”

Associated Press writers Amy Westfeldt in New York and David Porter in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.