The 9/11 Memorial & Museum opened in May of 2014, to remember, reflect and honor those lost in the attacks on both September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993 — the first attack on the World Trade Center.
Today, the museum and eight acre memorial acts as a beacon of sorts, welcoming visitors from across the globe with a mission to commemorate, educate and inspire. And now, 20 years after the destruction of the Twin Towers, the museum is also looking to the next generation.
“We’re in the middle of a transition from memory to history,” Alice Greenwald, National September 11 Memorial and Museum President and CEO told Yahoo Finance in an interview.
“There’s an entire generation of people, 25 years and younger, kids, who were maybe too young to remember the events or born after 9/11, for whom this is history, history to be learned,” she explained. “So while our mission remains the same, our focus is evolving to be more responsive to this next generation.”
One of those people is Amanda Carithers of San Diego, who was in her 9th grade English class on 9/11/2001. She felt it was crucial to visit the memorial and museum on her first visit to New York.
“We thought this was pertinent and it’s a part of our nation’s history, to actually come to see it,” she told Yahoo Finance. “It’s indescribable.”
Dayna Hias of Santa Rosa California also felt compelled to visit the site. She was 11 years old on that fateful day.
“I remember sitting in class watching it, and it’s just always been something that’s really stuck out to me…my first thing in history that I’ve actually experienced, so this has been something on my bucket list that I’ve wanted to do…coming here was really important to me,” she added.
‘The power of first person narrative’
For those who cannot travel to New York, the museum aims to reach the younger generation through its webinar Anniversary in The Schools each year. It runs 30 minutes, and includes individuals who lived through 9/11.
That includes family members of victims, people who evacuated the buildings and survived, first responders, people who worked on the recovery, and people who were rescued that day.
“The power of the first person narrative of people sharing their personal story resonates with children,” Greenwald said. However, this year the museum is hoping to reach an even younger level as those individuals becomes older.
“The number of the people featured in this year’s webinar were kids themselves on 9/11, so they’re now in their late 20s, early 30s, but the stories they tell are the stories of their own experience of that day,” Greenwald added.
This includes a young man’s account of September 11th, 2001, who was in fifth grade at the Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where President George W. Bush was reading a book to the students when he first received word of the attacks.
To honor the 20th anniversary and this new additional focus to reach young people, the museum launched the Never Forget Fund, including the Never Forget ticket, which is being sold for a $50 donation.
The ticket itself is a permanent metal keepsake handcrafted by Pennsylvania-based Wendell August Forge. The company, known for its made in America producers, aims to employ former first responders.
“It’s literally is a memento that you can buy. It’s this lovely, beautifully designed piece of metal that has been hand wrought, hand pounded. It’s something you can place on your desk, or your mantel, or your bookshelf as a remembrance of the 20th anniversary,” Greenwald explained.
The ticket itself comes with a QR Code, but also serves a year-long ticket to the museum with the hope it’ll be passed along.
“We’re encouraging people, give it to that teenager in your house, give it to that college student,” she added.
A regular ticket costs $26. And despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — which slashing daily visits from 8,000 people per a day to just 4,000 — Greenwald is determined to keep prices the same.
“We also have free hours every week. So that people who can’t otherwise afford to come, they can come during those hours…we do try to make ourselves as available as possible,” Greenwald added.
The eight-acre memorial remains free to the public all-year old, along with the twin reflecting pools that list the 2,977 people lost on that day.
Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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