9/11 Museum Opening Ceremony Saw Moving Remarks From President Obama, Michael Bloomberg, & Bill Clinton

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The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened Thursday to victims' families, first responders, and recovery workers. In the morning, a ceremony was held to mark the 9/11 museum's opening and to remember those who lost their lives in the attacks, bringing out an assembly of political figures from New York and beyond. Here's a look at the ceremony's most prominent speakers...

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The ceremony's first speaker was former Mayor Bloomberg, the memorial foundation’s chairman who put $15 million of his own money toward the museum. "This museum, built on the site of rubble and ruins, is now filled with the faces, stories and the memories of our common grief and our common hope," Bloomberg told the crowd. "It is impossible to leave without feeling inspired."

President Obama

The president remarked how moving the museum is, but his words were just as emotional. "I think all who come here will find it to be a profound, moving experience," Obama said. "Here at this memorial, this museum, we come together, we stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters."

"Those we lost live on in us," Obama continued. "In the families who love them still, the friends who remember them always and in a nation that will honor them now and forever."

He also told the story of Welles Crowthe, known "the man in the red bandanna," who heroically sacrificed his own life to save others during the attacks. Obama then introduced the man's mother and the woman he'd saved.

Museum President Joe Daniels

The museum's president, Joe Daniels, also made some remarks: "You won't walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way. And for a museum, if we can achieve that objective, we've done our job."

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

During Mayor de Blasio's speech, he said that it was the "ordinary everyday objects" that speak volumes, and he pointed to a pair of dusty black pumps worn by a survivor. "Don't we all own a pair of shoes we wear to work? It could've been the ones we wore that day."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Cuomo honored the passengers on United 93 who sacrificed their lives by rising up against the terrorists. "In doing so, they changed the course of history,” Gov. Cuomo said. “In giving their lives, how many lives did they save?” 

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the stories of rescue workers who would not give up on finding survivors even in desperate conditions. "They kept digging and digging and digging," he said before introducing first responders who had been trapped together on the day of the attacks.

Former President Bill Clinton

"It is astounding to see," former President Clinton said. "I never imagined when they started this, that the end result would be this. New Yorkers should be very proud of this. I hope every American gets to see it."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie narrowly missed a potentially very awkward situation, as his remarks were supposed to be followed by Idina Menzel's performance of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Inevitably, the governor's infamous Bridgegate scandal would have popped into everyone's minds, distracting them from the actual reason they were there. Luckily for him, and perhaps the entire crowd, a last-minute change in the lineup was made when Menzel fell ill.

Instead, singer LaChanze, whose husband died in the attacks, sang "Amazing Grace."

Now that you have a better sense of the museum, what can you expect from a visit? The museum will take you back in time and place you in the middle of that horrific day, but like Mayor Bloomberg said, it'll be impossible to leave without feeling inspired. 

The 9/11 Memorial Museum, located beneath the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, is devoted to telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia exhibitions including artifacts, voicemails, photos, and videos, ranging from inspirational to downright chilling. 

Visitors begin in a pavilion where the tops of two of the World Trade Center's trident-shaped columns are visible. From there, museumgoers descend through a corridor filled with the voices of people recounting the attacks and past the "survivors' staircase," which was used by hundreds to escape the burning buildings.

When you get to the base level, which is 70 feet below ground, you'll be surrounded by remnants of the skyscrapers' foundations and artifacts like a piece of the antenna from the top of one of the towers and a mangled fire truck.
 
The experience will no doubt be unsettling at times, but the museum presents an accurate picture of the terror of that day in order to fully honor the compassion and humanity that ultimately triumphed. The museum opens to the public on May 21.


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