News / USA

September 11 Museum in New York Still Unfinished

National 9/11 Museum at Standstill as Anniversary Nearsi
|| 0:00:00
X
September 05, 2012 10:20 PM
Eleven years after the September 11 terror attacks leveled the World Trade Center, work on a museum at the site, which was to open on the anniversary this year, has stopped - because of financial and power disputes. At the same time, family members of some of the victims are fighting the museum’s plan to preserve unidentified human remains in an underground repository. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Carolyn Weaver
More than 4 million people have visited the September 11 Memorial in New York City since it opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.  Visitors from around the world come to watch the waterfalls rush into the deep footprints of the former World Trade Center Twin Towers and to read the names of those who died, etched in bronze panels surrounding the pools.

But work on the September 11 Museum at the site, which was to open in time for Tuesday's ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks, stopped months ago because of financial disputes between the private foundation that owns the Memorial & Museum, and the public Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site.

Then, late Monday, it was announced that foundation and the government agency reached financial and control agreements that will allow construction to resume within weeks, with a possible opening date late in 2013. 
 
The museum’s steel and glass entry hall is built, but its interior is unfinished, and a sign outside warns visitors away.  Monica Iken, whose husband, Michael, died in the attacks, calls the impasse a disgrace.

"It’s an embarrassment for the world to see," she said.  "They come there, and I’ve been there several times where people come up to me and say, 'Where’s the museum, why is it not open?'  How do you explain that: 'Oh, because we’re fighting over some money?'"

Museum renderings show visitors entering under huge trident beams from the original buildings, and taking escalators down to cavernous galleries that will hold damaged rescue vehicles and a set of stairs down which some survivors fled.  Photographic and sound exhibits will tell the stories of that day and memorialize each of the nearly 3,000 people who died.  There will also be displays telling the story of al-Qaida and the terrorist plotters -- although some family members of those who died, like Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy, think those should be limited to side displays in kiosks.

"If you want to see their pictures, let them go into the kiosk and look at their picture," he said.  "But I think you've made it more like a Hall of Fame for the terrorists, and that's the way I feel, by putting their pictures up there."

Museum officials, who refused to be interviewed, reportedly have carefully considered how to present a history that might be traumatic for some visitors, particularly children.  They have deleted images that are too graphic or that show an individual victim’s identity.  The foundation reportedly plans to charge an admission fee of $25, although the memorial will remain free of charge.

But it is a collection that will never be shown that has caused the fiercest controversy -- a refrigerated repository for 9,000 unidentified fragments of human bone and tissue, now held in the New York medical examiner's offices.  It will be seven stories underground, and off-limits to all but family members of the victims and the medical examiner.  Museum visitors will see only a vast wall bearing a quotation from the Roman poet Virgil:  “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

But Jim Riches and members of 16 other victims' families are suing.  He said that only a few family members were consulted by the September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation about their wishes.  His group wants to poll all of the families on the issue.  Riches says he thinks that most would choose to visit the unidentified remains at a tomb above ground, and not as part of the museum.

"There are no museums in the whole country that put human remains in the museum," Riches says.  "And you also would have to get the permission of the family members to do such a thing."  

Experts on the disposition of Native American bones agree, saying that control of human remains is for group members to decide.  Such a group would include virtually every family that lost a loved one in the World Trade Center attacks because only 40 percent have received even fragments of their loved ones' remains.

But other activists say the question was decided years ago in a consensus process that all the families were welcome to join.

Charles G. Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, died in the attacks, said the families agreed that unidentified remains should be interred "at bedrock," between the footprints of the fallen Twin Towers.  "What they're pushing for is to go against the agreements that we all agreed to back in 2003 and 2004," Wolf said.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the foundation that owns the Memorial & Museum, says the museum repository is needed.  "One of the centerpieces of the museum, in terms of visibility and respect, is where you put the unidentified remains," he said.  "It is not just in a small place, it is in a facility that also has what the medical examiner thinks will be necessary down the road as technology gets better."

Norman Siegel, an attorney for the families who are suing, said that is unlikely.  "No remains have been identified since 2009," he said.

In late August, an atheists' group sued to stop the display of a steel beam cross that became a symbol for the recovery workers at Ground Zero.  The lawsuit contends that the display is an improper government endorsement of religion.  The foundation responded that it is a private, not governmental, organization, and that the cross will be displayed as a historical artifact, not as an object of veneration.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Memories
September 06, 2012 12:05 PM
Cherish the memories of those who died in this terrible tragedy.
Dont forget them - they were all very special to their families and friends. Sensitivity is required in dealing with matters arising and
perhaps the Government needs to become more involved in helping overcome them. All of you together are a strong nation.


by: bz from: Portland, OR
September 06, 2012 11:37 AM
The elephant in the room is the seething scandal beneath the events of 9/11 itself. Many rescue workers saw the evidence of demolitions, and many families think their relatives were killed by them. Sure, you can ban such comments as this and we shall go on denying the core of the problem around the 9/11 memorial, but there is too much evidence to suppress it forever. Good luck, America.

In Response

by: I_Was_There from: NYC
September 06, 2012 7:11 PM

Your conspiracy theories are pathetic and utterly shameful. Good luck with your sad efforts to give yourself a passion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid