Partly Cloudy
80°FPartly CloudyFull Forecast

Obama, first lady tour Sept. 11 museum

Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014 9:34 a.m. CDT
Caption
(JOHN ANGELILLO)
A New York City firefighter looks at the last column recovered at the World Trade Center site at the dedication ceremony for the National 9/11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. The museum memorializes the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Angelillo, Pool)
Caption
(AP)
Fragments of the fuselage of Flight 11, that hit the World Trader Center, are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)
Caption
(Mark Lennihan)
The pavilion entrance to the National September 11 Memorial Museum, center, is next to one of the memorial reflecting pools, lower right, Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. President Barack Obama is to attend the dedication of the underground museum Thursday before it opens to the general public May 21. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Caption
(Richard Drew)
Actor Robert Robert De Niro attends the the dedication ceremony in Foundation Hall, of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, in New York, Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, Pool)

NEW YORK – President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama toured the Sept. 11 museum on Thursday, viewing a memorial wall with photos of victims and a mangled fire truck, ahead of a ceremony marking its opening.

Obama walked quietly through an expansive hall with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with the first lady, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following behind them.

Obama was set to speak at the dedication ceremony later Thursday, with hundreds of dignitaries and Sept. 11 victims' relatives, survivors and rescuers there to view the museum built to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attack, as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The museum opens to the public May 21.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York Gov. George Pataki were among those attending, as was actor Robert De Niro, a museum board member.

By turns chilling and heartbreaking, the ground zero museum leads people on an unsettling journey through the terrorist attacks, with forays into their lead up and legacy.

There are scenes of horror, including videos of the skyscrapers collapsing and people falling from them. But there also are symbols of heroism, ranging from damaged fire trucks to the wristwatch of one of the airline passengers who confronted the hijackers.

"You won't walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way," museum President Joe Daniels said Wednesday.

The museum and memorial plaza above, which opened in 2011, were built for $700 million in donations and tax dollars. Work on the museum was marked by construction problems, financial squabbles and disputes over its content and the appropriate way to honor the dead, but its leaders see it as a monument to unity and resilience.

And its opening is prompting reflection from presidents and the everyday people whose lives were changed by the attacks. Former President George W. Bush issued a statement Wednesday saying the museum "will help ensure that our nation remembers the lessons of Sept. 11."

Visitors start in an airy pavilion where the rusted tops of two of the World Trade Center's trident-shaped columns shoot upward. From there, museumgoers descend stairs and ramps, passing through a dark corridor filled with the voices of people remembering the day and past the battered "survivors' staircase" that hundreds used to escape the burning towers.

At the base level — 70 feet below ground, amid remnants of the skyscrapers' foundations — there are such artifacts as a mangled piece of the antenna from atop the trade center and a fire truck with its cab shorn off.

Then, galleries plunge visitors into the chaos of Sept. 11: fragments of planes, a set of keys to the trade center, a teddy bear left at the impromptu memorials that arose after the attacks, the dust-covered shoes of those who fled the skyscrapers' collapse, emergency radio transmissions and office workers calling loved ones, even a recording of an astronaut solemnly describing the smoke plume from the International Space Station.

Sprinkled in are snippets about the 19 hijackers, including photos of them on an inconspicuous panel.

Previous Page|1|2|Next Page

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Daily Chronicle.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch Now

Player embeded on all DDC instances for analytics purposes.

DeKalb High School ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

More videos »

Reader Poll

Do you think you spent a greater portion of your income on your children than your parents spent on you?
Yes
No
Don't have children