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9/11 Museum opens to the public and elicits overwhelming response

9/11 Museum opens to the general public
9/11 Museum opens to the general public
Karsten Moran for NY Times

"Alone or in groups they emerged from the dark exhibition halls and the even darker subject matter of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, reaching for words like “overwhelming,” “shock” and “gut-wrenching,” stressed The New York Times today at the opening of the 9/11 Museum today (May 21). For many there were no words that could express the sense of solemnity that the unveiling of the museum elicited. For more visitor reaction on the day of the museum's historic opening to the general public visit

"On Wednesday, nearly a week after it was opened to family members of victims and rescue workers, the museum opened to the general public. As the doors opened at 9 a.m., tourists dressed casually in pink running shoes and Mona Lisa T-shirts lined up alongside somber-faced New Yorkers waiting to pay their respects to friends and neighbors who died in the terrorist attack," added The New York Times.

“Gut-wrenching would describe it best,” said Nell Anderson, 29, an interior designer in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn to The Times. “People were very solemn, very quiet. The attacks happened when I was in high school but now I call New York my home, and I went to pay my respects.”

According to the report advance ticket sales sold quickly, but guests were ushered to a standby line for entry on a standby basis. To many the pain of the 9/11 attacks had faded a bit and the museum brought all those feelings that had been dormant back to the memory. “It had sort of receded a little bit, and coming back here brings it back to life,” Dr. Koppel said to The Times. He said in the report that he was glad that he had visited, but added: “I am not sure I would come again. The feelings it stirred up were not pleasant feelings.”

"The first day’s allocation of 7,000 tickets had all been sold out online, well in advance of the opening day. The museum plans to allow 5,000 to 8,000 visitors per day, though that figure could be adjusted. The admission fee is $24, though relatives of Sept. 11 victims and rescue and recovery workers can enter free," according to the report today.

Positive views though some feared the museum gift shop was too commercial

Others said to The Times that while they had an overall positive view, they found the idea of a gift shop too crassly commercial, or they cringed at the thought of having to revisit images of airliners crashing into the towers. “I think we all remember that — do we have to see it over and over again?” said Lori Strelecki, 50, from Milford, Pa to the newspaper.

"The official opening was preceded by a ceremonial unfurling of what is known as the National 9/11 Flag, a torn and discolored American flag that hung at the World Trade Center site after the attacks and was stitched back together on a journey to all 50 states. Donated by the New York Says Thank You Foundation, it will become part of the museum’s collection, added the report.

"Children stood alongside a uniformed honor guard holding the flag during a brief opening ceremony, during which Joseph C. Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation, said: 'That’s why we built this museum, at the end of the day. It is to make sure that our children’s children’s children know what this country went through on 9/11, and equally as important, know how we came together to help one another with absolutely limitless compassion," added The Times. In order to get the full impact of what this museum means to victims of the attacks, the First Responders, New Yorkers, and the world at large, one only has to look at the lines forming on today's opening to the public at large.

This museum that has elicited such a passionate response from so many for so many conflicting reasons, offers a cathartic response to all of us who experienced the 9/11 tragedy on that unforgettably gruesome and horrifying day. We can never forget the day. We all have stories. We all have regrets.We can never forget. This 9/11 Museum and Memorial now serves as a permanent reminder of what we went through as a city and a nation united by tragedy. We look at the museum and remember the day and as memories flood to the surface we can move forward with some measure of understanding and truth. Although we can never forget, nor would we want to, we can remember in the hallowed walls of a museum steeped in history and humanity. We must treasure this museum. For better or worse 9/11/2001 is a part of us now. We must never forget. The opening of the 9/11 Museum assures us that we never will. Let us remember the victims of this tragedy when viewing the museum and get a measure of peace and understanding. Staten Islanders interested in visiting the 9/11 Museum should visit