U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday marked the dedication of the September 11 Memorial Museum.
The dedication was attended by former New York mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and relatives of the more than 2,700 people who were killed in the Al-Qaeda terrorist attack in 2001.
“It is an honor for us to join in your memories,” Obama said at the dedication. “To remember and to reflect. But above all, to reaffirm the true spirit of 9/11 -- love, compassion, sacrifice -- and to enshrine it forever in the heart of our nation.
“Michelle and I just had the opportunity to join with others on a visit with some of the survivors and families -- men and women who inspire us all. And we had a chance to visit some of the exhibits. And I think all who come here will find it to be a profound and moving experience.
“I want to express our deep gratitude to everybody who was involved in this great undertaking -- for bringing us to this day, for giving us this sacred place of healing and of hope,” he said.
Obama told the story of Welles Crowther, who died in the attack while leading people to safety.
“On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles,” he said. “Months later, she was reading the newspaper -- an article about those final minutes in the towers. Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety. And in that moment, Alison knew. Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief. Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.
“Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future. He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world. He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter. And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.
“Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero. And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther. And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.
“And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum. And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who -- like so many -- gave his life so others might live.
“Those we lost live on in us. In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever,” said Obama.
According to CNN, the museum will open to the public May 21. Also memorialized inside are the victims of the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.
The museum and memorial plaza, which opened in 2011, were built with $700 million in donations and tax dollars following construction problems and disputes over how best to remember the thousands of lives lost that day.
The site, which has risen up from the ashes of suffering and tragedy, is expected to stand as a symbol of resilience, organizers told the network.
It holds some 12,500 objects, 1,995 oral histories and 580 hours of film and video.
Earlier this week, "Ground Zero 360," an exhibit commemorating those murdered in the September 11, 2001 terror attack, opened at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.