|9/11 memorial plaza in NYC opens to public |
|Posted: Monday, September 12, 2011 9:02 pm |
|NEW YORK (AP) — The plot of land known for a decade as “the pile,” “the pit” and “ground zero” opened to the public today for the first time since that terrible morning in 2001, transformed into a memorial consisting of two serene reflecting pools ringed by the chiseled-in-bronze names of the nearly 3,000 souls lost. |
The 9/11 memorial plaza opened its gates at 10 a.m. under tight, airport-style security. Visitors were allowed to walk among hundreds of white oak trees on the eight-acre site and gaze at the water on the exact spots where the World Trade Center’s twin towers stood.
They will also be able to run their fingers over the names of the 2,977 people killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, as well as the six who died in the bombing of the trade center in 1993. Electronic directories with a “Find a Name” button will help people locate their loved ones.
The memorial plaza opened to the families of the victims for the first time on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Sufia Simjee of Baltimore traveled to New York to mourn her cousin, Nasima H. Simjee, a financial analyst killed on Sept. 11. She said family members never received Nasima’s remains; now, at least, they have a place to leave flowers.
“It gives us a place to honor her,” she said.
Although thousands of construction workers have come and gone from the site over the years, today marked the first time that ordinary Americans without a badge, a press pass or a hard hat were able to walk the grounds where the victims were once entombed in a mountain of smoking rubble. “It will do what the terrorists tried to prevent, which is we’ve created a place where, regardless of political stripes, economic class, ethnicity, country of origin, people will be coming together, paying their respects at a place that’s been transformed from one that was noted for such pain … to a place of stunning beauty,” memorial president Joe Daniels said last week as preparations were made for opening day.
Admission is free, but access will be tightly controlled. Visitors need to obtain passes in advance, allowing them to enter at a specified time. No more than about 1,500 at a time will be allowed in.
Visitors will have to empty their pockets, walk through a metal detector and send their handbags and backpacks through an X-ray machine.
About 7,000 people were issued tickets for opening day. Some 400,000 have reserved tickets for the coming months, Daniels said.
Published in The Messenger 9.12.11