- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — The tears still flow when Lee Ielpi talks about his firefighter son and the day he helped carry the 29-year-old’s body out of the rubble of the World Trade Center.

But the tears won’t stop Mr. Ielpi from talking. It matters too much to him — and to others with close ties to the September 11 attacks. They soon will begin leading walking tours around the mostly empty World Trade Center site.

The survivors, neighborhood residents and those who lost loved ones hope to share their stories and make September 11 even more real to visitors who come to stare through fencing at where the twin towers once stood.

“It’s important to keep the memories of all these people who died alive,” Mr. Ielpi said yesterday after a press conference attended by Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“This is the spirit of September 11 being preserved forever and ever, and there can’t be anything more important that we do,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Mr. Ielpi, a retired firefighter, went to the trade center site every day after the attacks, and helped remove the body of his son, Jonathan, when his remains were recovered in December 2001.

The tours are being put together by the Tribute Center, a project of the September 11th Widows and Victims’ Families’ Association. Currently under construction just south of the Trade Center site, the center will host exhibitions and programs when it officially opens next spring. Tours will be offered on weekends starting next month, with an official launch in November.

Ultimately, the center hopes to host two to four tours during the week and six to eight on weekends, using up to 150 tour guides, said Sally Yerkovich, the center’s president. She said the tours will cost $10 for adults, $7.50 for children and seniors, with the money going toward the center’s operation.

The volunteer guides have all gone through training to help them figure out how best to tell their stories. “Each is different and each gives you a very special intimate view,” Miss Yerkovich said.

The September 11 attacks killed more than 2,700 people, including 343 members of the Fire Department of New York City.

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