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www.wmfd.com - Nearly 13 years after the attack that changed American life forever, the museum at Ground Zero is about to open. }}" />

Preview Of Ground Zero Museum Dedication
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Story By: Larry Stine



  Originally Published on: 5/14/2014

Nearly 13 years after the attack that changed American life forever, the museum at Ground Zero is about to open. Thursday, President Barack Obama and the First Lady will be on hand for the dedication of the National September 11th Memorial Museum. It's going to be open privately for six days so the families of victims, first responders and those directly affected by the attack can see it before the public opening. "These tridents were from the north towers," says Joe Daniels, National 9/11 Museum President. "They were covered in the aftermath of the attacks. We brought them back here basically build the museum all around them." nearly 13 years after terrorists destroyed the twin towers, killing nearly 3,000 people, the 9/11 Memorial Museum is set to open, a commemoration of the day America changed forever. "You're not white washing it," says CNN's Kate Bolduan. "This is the raw, dirty material." "Exactly. this is the steel that bore the attacks," Daniels says. The museum is built almost entirely underground, some 70 feet down. It sits in the literal footprint of the World Trade Center. "This is exactly where the South Tower started and went up 1350 feet," Daniels says. A striking display of the sheer scale of the destruction with poignant reminders of the tragedy at every turn. "I mean this, this is unbelievable," Bolduan says. "This is actually the front of this fire truck, this is the cab," Daniels says. "You wouldn't know," Balduan replies. "You wouldn't know. It's completely burnt out and destroyed so crushed and destroyed," Daniels says. Then there's the retaining wall that remarkably held strong even when the towers fell. "When the towers came down all that debris that was here right in this space providing bracing for that wall," Daniels says. And when that debris was cleared, there was a big concern that the wall would breach, it would flood lower Manhattan." "It could have been so much worse but this wall held under all that pressure," Balduan says. Visitors will also walk alongside "The Survivors Stairs." "Used by hundreds of people as the buildings were crumbling, running from the dust cloud to escape to safety and it's for all our visitors to understand the story of survival," Daniels points out. And likely one of the most emotional stops in the museum, this art installation mimics the blue sky on that fateful morning. Behind it, the still unidentified remains of 9/11 victims. The move met with mixed emotions from their families. "A still shocking statistic is that 1,100 family members never got any human remains back to bury, never got to go through the ritual of laying their loved ones to rest," Daniels says. "It's not a public space at all, only family members are allowed back behind the wall." Right next door, a room dedicated to the lives of those lost. "Adjacent to this, is the reflection room which is so important and why we can't show it and won't show it is because the families get to see it first," Bolduan says. "Exactly, that room is in an area called 'In Memorial' and it's a photographic portrait of each and every one of the 2983 victims," Daniels says. "You see pictures, a father coaching his son's little league team, a wedding ,you see the lives that were lost that day and not just about how they died, it's who these people were." Throughout the museum, chilling reminders of a day seared into our collective memory. Hand-made fliers for the missing. A cross emerging from the wreckage. Everyday items people left behind. "We helped, through these artifacts and images, tell that story of just, it was panic and people were getting out as fast as they could," Daniels says. "And it's not just the shoes, it tells the shoes worn by this woman, Linda, I mean, you're telling everything about that day," Bolduan points out. And while the museum is vast, one small exhibit has been the biggest source of controversy. It's focus, the terrorists themselves, including a film criticized for not making a clear enough distinction between Islam and Al Qaeda. "There's been a lot of criticism, why give any time to the terrorists?" Bolduan asks. "You know, it's one way to look at it is, you don't build a Holocaust museum and not be very clear that the Nazi's were the ones who committed those atrocities," Daniels says. "Al Qaeda was an extremist terrorist group, that essentially bastardized that religion for their own purposes, but no one will come through this exhibit and in anyway think that we are indicting an entire religion, which we are in no way are." "It seems very appropriate that you end here at the Last Column," Bolduan points out. "It again goes right back to resiliency, seeing those messages of hope and remembrance on this very tall Column, that's still standing strong," Daniels says.
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