Entries in National September 11 Memorial Museum (2)


9/11 Memorial Officially Open to Families on 10th Anniversary

David Handschuh-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Water flowed into the footprints of the fallen World Trade Center towers, now twin reflecting pools, as the completed National September 11 Memorial opened for the first time Sunday to family members on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

The pools, nearly an acre each in size, are lined with bronze panels inscribed with the 2,983 names of those who died in the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001, and the six people who died in the 1993 WTC bombing.

The memorial incorporated nearly 1,200 requests from victims' families to place the names near those of loved ones, co-workers and friends. It covers half of the 16-acre site, and contains 150 trees.

More than 400 swamp white oak trees were selected from within a 500-mile radius of the site to surround the reflecting pools. Additional trees from the Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., areas that also suffered attacks, will also be planted. Swamp white oaks turn a range of colors in the fall, and so in a few months the memorial will be protected by a canopy of amber, golden brown and pink leaves.

James Pappageorge, a firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, working at Ground Zero, left behind his fiancée, Gina Pinos, who didn't have a chance to tell him she'd taken a pregnancy test the night before and was expecting a baby. Pinos said the memorial is "a good thing" because "Sept. 11 is a story that should continue to be told."

The memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. The two men were selected from an international design competition in 2003 that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.

Arad said he wanted to make what was absent, visible.

"I think when you take in the scale of the space, and you see these close to 1,500 names that surround each pool, it's a moment of comprehension," he said. "It's not an easy moment, it shouldn't be, it's a sad moment. But it's a sad moment of understanding what happened that day. As you stand here I wanted people to be able to have that moment of quiet and thoughtful contemplation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Atheists Sue over World Trade Center Cross

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An atheist group sued Wednesday over the inclusion of cross-shaped steel beams, dubbed the "World Trade Center Cross," in the exhibit at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.

Jane Everhart, who is part of the atheists' suit, derided the cross as nothing more than "ugly piece of wreckage" that "does not represent anything…but horror and death."

Last weekend the 17-foot cross, discovered in the rubble of 9/11, was given a "ceremonial blessing" by the Rev. Brian Jordan, removed from its temporary post near St. Peter's Church and lowered 70 feet into its permanent home inside the museum.

But a group identified as American Atheists filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the inclusion of the cross-shaped steel beams promotes Christianity over all other religions on public property and diminishes the civil rights of non-Christians.

"The Christian community found a piece of rubble that looked like an icon and they deified it. But really 9/11 had nothing to do with Christianity," said American Atheists president Dave Silverman. "They want a monopoly and we don't want that to happen."

"It just so happens that the WTC was made out of T-joints and they found a T-joint," Silverman said. "They put it in the church, kept in the church for years, prayed over it, blessed it. You don't get to do that just in the coincidence that your icon looks like a T-joint."

In a statement to ABC News, the memorial foundation identified the cross as a "symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero," as well as an "authentic physical reminder" that "tell[s] the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can."

The atheist group said that they have contacted the 9/11 Memorial and Museum requesting to display their own atheistic memorial next to the steel-shaped cross, possibly in the form of an atom or an American flag, to represent the "500 non-religious Americans" who were "among the victims of the 9/11 attack."

The response, they claim, was "dead space."

Silverman also said that, "We have not heard of any other religious groups at all that have been allowed to put something up."

The 9/11 Memorial foundation told ABC News that other religious artifacts will be included in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. A Star of David cut from WTC steel and a Bible fused to a piece of steel that was found during recovery efforts will both be on display in the same historical exhibition as the cross.

A Jewish prayer shawl, donated by a victim's family member, will be part of the museum's memorial exhibition.

The cross was moved into the exhibition earlier than the other artifacts due to its large size, according to the Memorial foundation.

Silverman said that if the 9/11 Memorial foundation allows all other religious memorials of equal size and prominence to be displayed in the museum, the group would "happily, happily, drop the case."

"The museum should remember everybody who died or suffered, not just the Christians," she said. "America is a melting pot."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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