9/11 Memorial is forever open
The past few days have been full of gratitude and grief, happiness and sadness, remembrance and regret. This year’s anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was a milestone unlike any of the nine anniversaries that preceded it.
At the center of the emotion that was broadcast all over the world was the opening of the National September 11 Memorial.
We would like to applaud the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for making sure the opening even happened. Many forget that at one time the opening was slated for 2013 and not 2011. But the Port Authority and the construction workers it employs altered that timeline, noting the importance of the passing of a decade.
A tremendous amount of progress toward completing the memorial was made in just the last few months. The effort involved in pulling this opening off in time should make all New Yorkers and all Americans proud.
But as we did in the immediate days following 9/11, we must continue to live our lives. And while heeding William Faulkner’s words “The past is never dead, it’s not even past,” we must look to the future.
Last Friday, Senator Daniel Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, introduced legislation that would provide annual funding in the amount of $20 million to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. All federal funds appropriated would need to be matched by non-federal sources, such as by a combination of admissions fees, gifts and fundraising.
Senator Inouye is more than familiar with the significance of funding an institution like the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. His home state has a similar institution, the Pearl Harbor Memorial, that has also benefited from federal funding.
This legislation is supported by New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo, and we support it as well. The attacks of 9/11 were clearly an attack on America, and supporting the site is at least partly a national responsibility.
There have been reports that Senator Inouye’s bill would immediately place the 9/11 Memorial and Museum under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior and therefore be designated a U.S. National Park.
That, however, is not the case, but the federal support needs to obtain a number of approvals and overcome some complex issues of titling and ownership of the site.
The federal contribution of $20 million would cover about one-third of the annual cost of operation and maintenance of the memorial and museum.
While entrance to the memorial will remain free, hopefully, this federal support would shave some of the “suggested admission fees” — currently in the range of $20 to $25 — which are envisioned when the museum formally opens.
While the 9/11 Museum is not yet open, we believe that it is wise and prudent to take action now to ensure that when it does open, it will remain and exist as a source of education and inspiration for future generations.