President Obama on Thursday dedicated the long-awaited museum commemorating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with a mournful elegy to the victims, a stirring tribute to the heroes and a firm resolve to never let terrorists shatter the spirit of America.
“No act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country,” Mr. Obama told a crowd that included family members of those slain and other invited guests in the cavernous underground hall of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. “Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today,” he added, “nothing can ever break us. Nothing can change who we are as Americans.”
The president’s remarks highlighted a somber ceremony at the new institution marking the worst foreign attack on American soil, one that shocked the world and ushered in a new era of fear, war, determination and clashes of values while redefining America’s place in the world. Surrounded by the wreckage of that day, deep underneath the ground where two planes felled the twin towers, the president and the other guests vowed never to forget.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg played host for the event, joined by a plethora of other major figures from the region, including Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki.
Joining Mr. Obama for a tour of the museum before the ceremony were former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A spokesman for former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, said he was invited but could not make it because of a scheduling conflict.
Mr. Obama, solemn and quiet, used his remarks not to talk about the events that followed that day, the wars he has tried to end and the policies he has reshaped but continued. Instead, he focused on the nearly 3,000 people who perished in flames and smoke and those who tried to save them.
“Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget, of co-workers who led others to safety,” he said.
He singled out the heroism of a young man with a red bandanna who helped save people in the south tower before it collapsed. His identity was long unknown until months later when his mother read an article about the mysterious savior with the red bandanna and recognized him. He was Welles Crowther, 24.
“He had a big laugh and a joy of life and dreams of seeing the world,” Mr. Obama said. “He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter. And after the planes hit, he put on that bandanna and spent his final moments saving others.”
Read original story at The New York Times.