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Survivors of the fallen join officials in dedicating Sept. 11 Museum

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After more than a decade of planning and development, the National September 11 Memorial Museum was dedicated Thursday.

And for the next few days, it will be open only to survivors of the 2,983 people who died as a result of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center to visit and absorb privately the cavernous space in the footprint of the twin towers. It commemorates lives lost, heroic rescue efforts and the world-changing consequences wrought by terrorists who hijacked and piloted two passenger aircraft into the World Trade Center. The public will be welcome later this week.

Since 9/11, at the same time the country successfully fought a war in Iraq, American soldiers were sent to Afghanistan to combat terrorist activities and U.S. Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden, who led the organization that carried out the attack on the nation. The war in Afghanistan continues today, frustrating the soldiers fighting, the political leadership at home and a nation that has had enough war over the last 12 years.

All the while these wars were ending the lives of American men and women, many of whom were our neighbors serving in the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, the organizers of the museum slogged on to build a permanent reminder of that terrible day and honor the heroes who died while simply doing their jobs. From office workers to maintenance people, to executives and professionals, firefighters and police officers, the new museum reminds visitors of their sacrifices.

The museum faced a multitude of challenges as it moved from a concept to the colossus that it is. There were lawsuits, fundraising challenges and many moments of strong leadership by individuals such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who stepped forward in the bleak days of development to make a substantial contribution of personal assets and time to thrust the fundraising campaign toward success.

The result of the squabbles is a masterful museum of common remembrance. It is significant that the nation accomplished this goal despite its divisive issues. With that behind us the nation needs to take a deep breath and visit this museum either in person, online or on television and decide that the petty politics today of the left and right pale against the memory of what happened to our nation.

The museum provides a platform of universal commitment based upon civil, yet courageous actions to protect the common good. Our political leaders should experience the museum in person to evaluate their own rhetoric in the face of the consequences of extremism.

They should leave the museum and its hallowed ground to return to Washington to walk past and absorb the Lincoln Memorial on the way to the Capitol. They should learn from the past to shun extremism, cross the political chasm and show America they are just as capable of governing as the innocent heroes of 9/11 were able to respond to the anguish raining down from a falling symbol of America.



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