Never Forget: 9/11 Memorials & Museums

911 MemorialLast month, while attending my residency for my degree program, I had the opportunity to visit New York City. Due to timing, I wasn’t able to see very much, but I was determined to see the 9/11 Memorial (pictured at left) and I did. As we approached the Memorial, I stopped to take it in, and as images of that day and thoughts of how it changed my life ran through my head, I heard a much younger student from my program say loudly, “What is this a memorial to? Guys, what is this a memorial to?”

Her question left me speechless. After all this country has sacrificed, that day and since – not to mention the ridiculous amount of access technology provides to anything and everything – how is there a single person in this country who doesn’t know, who can’t at least deduce, what the two gigantic holes in the ground, ringed by thousands of names, stand for?

This morning on Facebook, someone posted that they knew about that day, but that they simply didn’t want to remember it. They didn’t want to relive the pain and the horror. But, truth is, we have to. Bearing witness, remembering the moment, the names, the lives that were taken or given – it’s the only thing we can do for them. It’s our obligation, as survivors, as citizens, as a society. If you experienced it, you must remember, and you must educate those who didn’t, so that they, too, can remember.

9/11 Memorial: The 9/11 Memorial is located on the sight of the fallen towers. It is free and open to the public from 7:30am-9:00pm daily. Tonight, to mark the anniversary, the memorial will be open until midnight and a special “Tribute in Light” will use lights to symbolize the towers standing.

If you aren’t able to get to NYC today, you can watch the ceremonies live here. You can also download an app which covers the history of the towers, the design of the memorial, and details about the 9/11 Museum. There’s even an interactive timeline and teachers can download lesson plans to use in their classrooms.

9/11 Museum: The 9/11 Memorial Museum, which opened in May, is located adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial and honors both the events and victims of the 9/11 attack as well as the original attack on the towers in 1993. The museum contains a variety of artifacts – remnants of the original structure, including the “Survivors’ Staircase” and the iconic steel beams, the FDNY Ladder 3 fire truck – the members of which all perished, scorched boots, pieces of fuselage, missing posters that were hung all over the city in the day’s after 9/11, pieces of the Pentagon, items from those brave souls on Flight 93, the uniform shirt worn by the SEAL who finally killed UBL. It also includes photos and oral histories, some of which can be accessed online.

Entrance to the museum is $24.00 for adults, $15.00 for children ages 7-17, and free for children under six. Active duty, military retirees, 9/11 family members, and 9/11 rescue and recovery workers are free, while all other military veterans are $18.00 and all NYPD/FDNY/PAPD are $12.00 with valid ID. There are also a limited number of free tickets available each Tuesday; these are valid from 5pm until museum close and can be reserved online two weeks in advance or will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the ticket window starting at 4:30pm on the day of.

The Pentagon Memorial: While the image of the towers collapsing may be the one most remembered, those in the towers were not the only ones killed on that infamous day. The Pentagon Memorial honors the 125 souls who died in the Pentagon, as well as the 59 who perished on Flight 77. You can find photos and biographies for these individuals on The Pentagon Memorial’s website. A 24-minute audio tour, which includes interviews with Pentagon survivors, can also be found on the site, along with an interactive map of the benches that form the memorial. With the exception of the morning of 9/11, when the annual ceremony takes place, The Pentagon Memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Flight 93: At 10:03 am on 9/11, the passengers and crew of Flight 93, who had chosen courage and action, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Ten years later, the first stage of a permanent memorial was opened to the public. While parts of the memorial are still under construction, the first stage of the Memorial, maintained by the National Parks Service, is open from 9am to 7pm through October 13th, when hours will shorten from 9am to 5pm. The park is closed on Christmas, New Year’s, and President’s Day (it will be open on Thanksgiving this year), but is otherwise open to the public daily at no cost. Rangers give interactive discussions, usually lasting about 45 mins, several times during the day. You can check out the Memorial’s webpage for specifics about the day you choose to visit.

If you can’t get to Shanksville, the NPS has posted a number of resources online, including cell phone tours that can be used from anywhere, videos that tell the story of Flight 93 and its passengers and crew, and oral histories from individuals with a direct connection to Flight 93.

Whatever you choose to do today, never forget.

© 2014, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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