Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 20, 2014

“A punch in the gut”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on May 20, 2014

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum will open to the public on Wednesday, May 21st.

You can learn about the memorial at this link: http://www.911memorial.org/

I received an email  from a colleague, Robert Mahoney, who had the opportunity to visit the memorial yesterday.  Robert is a retired FBI agent. “He served as the national manager for all FBI Special Operations Groups, assistant legal attaché for terrorism in London and acting assistant special agent in charge in New York. Mahoney was in the World Trade Center on 9/11, leading an FBI search team into the site between collapses, and a supervisor in the FBI Crisis Command and Recovery Center thereafter, working at the World Trade Center and Fresh Kills Recovery sites.”  You can read his article “Preparing the Fire Service for Terrorism” at this link (registration required).

Here’s what he wrote in his email:

I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum today as part of a pre-dedication period for people who were involved before it opens to the public later this week. They did an excellent job.

The spaces are very well done from large open areas to small intimate rooms. The collection and displays are almost too much to absorb. They have been very, very complete about all aspects of the attack and the aftermath. Pictures, artifacts, video, audio, victims biographies, displays, rescuers, individual stories, etc. It just goes on and on, each item leading you to the next, and from gallery to gallery.

You must go. It took over four hours, but I could use another visit to really take it all in.

There is very little about the rebuilding, but after all, the story they are telling is about the attack itself.

I’m sure once it opens to the public, the lead time for tickets could be months.

Having been deeply involved in the design and rebuilding, it’s also great to see how all the parts of the footprint out on the memorial plaza and in the museum really came together. It’s a very moving experience, and for each of us who had the privilege of participating in any aspect of this it’s also very rewarding. If you weren’t involved directly, it will certainly make you understand the experience.

With my lectures and writing about 9/11 and more importantly the lessons learned from it, I never cease to be amazed at how you do not need to go very far from NYC or Washington, before people think this whole terrorism thing is someone else’s problem.

On the one hand I came home last night thinking everyone should be made to go through this museum to understand the price of their detachment, but on the other hand it might only reinforce the idea that it’s a New York issue.

Have you ever been to a museum with chaplains and grief counselors moving among the visitors, or permanently installed boxes of tissues in the exhibits, or its own bomb sniffing dogs? It’s a strange experience. A friend who had also been there described it to me as a “punch in the gut”, and it really is.

Most memorials don’t begin to show up until after the war is over. This one is not only here while the war continues, but on the site of its biggest event, and from the security that’s evident, is accepted to possibly be a target again. So it’s a valuable ‘punch’ that absolutely  achieves its mission to cause remembrance but also to … everyone … in this homeland security effort, it’s a reminder to keep pushing the message.

I’m including a couple of photos I took of the new tower rather than focus on the past alone since it’s the rebuilding that contributes so much to the overall sense about the Trade Center.


9:11 memorial 1



9:11 memorial 2

9:11 memorial 3

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

Thanks Christopher and Robert for this post. And Robert glad you made it home after 9/11 at least physically.

9/11/01 a calibration point in the world’s history IMO! Not just US!

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