News / USA

    September 11 Museum in New York Still Unfinished

    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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora