The National September 11 Memorial Museum will open to the public on Wednesday May 21, 2014. On Thursday May 15, there will be a dedication ceremony and for one week the museum will be open 24 hours a day to allow family members, 9/11 rescue and recovery workers, survivors, lower Manhattan residents and first responders from agencies that lost members to view the museum. The President and First Lady will attend the dedication ceremony. “Stakeholders” were selected by lottery to attend. I know a couple of my fellow docents who are attending and look forward to hearing their accounts of the event. The ceremony will be available for viewing on the National September 11 Memorial Museum website. I will not be attending the dedication. I will be visiting the Museum on Sunday May 18. It is actually my second visit.
My first visit was in May of 2012. At that time the Museum was still more of a construction site than a museum. I was however struck by the size of the space. It was massive. The museum takes you down to bedrock to the original “bathtub walls”. To see the walls I had spoken of so many during walking tours was amazing. We were allowed to take photos but were not allowed to post them on social media. I assume the statute of limitations has run out on that as the Museum has been featured on Sixty Minutes, etc…
As the museum opening approaches, there is an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. In one way I am glad it is finally opening but in another way the opening makes it all so real. It is hard to explain but the Museum opening is kind of the last piece in the September 11 story. Once the doors open it seems like the story is set in stone. But part of me believes the story is still being written. I believe there are still stories to be shared and learned from. I guess John W. Gardner’s quote sums it up for me “History never looks like history when you are living through it.”
Please remember to say a prayer for those who the Museum opening is another chapter in that unwritten handbook “a personal loss (or story) in the midst of a national tragedy”. I will blog about my visit in the near future.