9/11 Glade honors heroes and victims

BY GABE HERMAN |A new section of the 9/11 Memorial recently opened to the public, following a dedication ceremony the same morning.

The 9/11 Memorial Glade honors rescue, recovery and relief workers, along with survivors and members of the Lower Manhattan community who are sick or have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

The memorial’s design includes a pathway flanked by six large stone monoliths, each inlaid with World Trade Center steel.

At the dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Glade. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The site is in the southwest area of the memorial site, next to the South Pool, where the South Tower once stood. This is where a main ramp was used during the recovery period after 9/11, which gave access to bedrock. The ramp was used by workers removing debris and gave victims’ families access to the site.

The new memorial’s opening day, May 30, was the 17th anniversary of the end of the Ground Zero cleanup efforts.

A family member left a photo and flowers on the Memorial Glade, which includes World Trade Center steel. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The Memorial Glade was designed by the original architects of the 9/11 Memorial, Michael Arad and Peter Walker, to keep an aesthetic continuity at the overall site.

Many thousands of people have gotten 9/11-related illnesses since the terror attacks. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which started in 2011, has received about 40,000 applications so far.

And more people are only now starting to realize that their health issues are related to 9/11, attorney Michael Barasch recently told this paper.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg praised those who selflessly gave of themselves after 9/11. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The crowd at the dedication ceremony included many with 9/11-related illnesses, and family members of others. And they were the first ones to enter the new memorial when it officially opened around 11 a.m.

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Caryn Pfeifer, a 9/11 health advocate and wife of late New York City firefighter Raymond J. Pfeifer, who was also a 9/11 health advocate. She was joined on the stage by their son Terence, a current member of the New York Fire Department, and their daughter Taylor, who serves adults living with disabilities.

Raymond Pfeifer spent the nine months after the attacks searching and digging at Ground Zero, Caryn said. He died on May 28, 2017, from cancer linked to exposure to toxins at the World Trade Center.

Caryn said that her husband participated in the efforts at Ground Zero without being asked or told to, and without thinking of the consequences.

“But there were consequences,” she said. “There was illness and pain and death.”

“I know many of you are suffering your own nightmares,” she said, including responders and the local community, which included students who were in Lower Manhattan at the time. “Lending each other support even in the toughest times.”

The Stuyvesant High School Choruses performed at the 9/11 Memorial Glade’s dedication. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Caryn Pfeifer said the Glade Memorial reminded her of her husband, who used to say to do the right thing even when no one was looking.

“What a beautiful place for our heroes,” Caryn said. “A place that honors the work they did, their honor and strength.”

The Memorial Glade cost $5 million to construct. Comedian Jon Stewart helped in fundraising efforts. Stewart also is an ardent advocate for 9/11-related health benefits. Other funding came from New York State, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Building Trades Unions.

“The effects of 9/11 are still being felt and still being discovered,” said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is chairperson of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, speaking at the ceremony.

Bloomberg praised the people who worked tirelessly in the nine-month rescue and recovery efforts after the attacks, including people who came from all over the world.

“They showed what is possible when people work together for a common purpose,” he said. “Their selfless acts provided light.”

Bloomberg said that many also helped lead the fight to obtain health benefits from the federal government.

“They truly are heroes,” he said of the rescue and recovery workers. “I was lucky to work alongside them as mayor and we have lost too many of them.”

The dedication ceremony also included a performance of “America the Beautiful” by the Stuyvesant High School Choruses.

Each end of the new memorial includes an inscription, which reads, in part, “This Memorial Glade is dedicated to those whose actions in our time of need led to their injury, sickness, and death/Responders and recovery workers/Survivors and community members/Suffering long after September 11, 2001, from exposure to hazards and toxins that hung heavy in the air here and beyond this site known as Ground Zero/And at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania/In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.”

3 Responses to 9/11 Glade honors heroes and victims

  1. For $5 million the 9/11 memorial foundation got granite stones quarried from Vermont and artificially “weathered” by workmen in order to “symbolize” the struggle, perseverance and strength of Ground Zero workers. Meanwhile Arad will not allow the return of the Koenig Sphere to the WTC site. Where it stood for 30 years (from about the time Arad was in diapers) as a symbol of world peace. And on September 11 it survived the attacks in place, battered and damaged. It was embraced by Ground Zero workers as a symbol of their and America’s struggle, perseverance and strength in response to the attacks. They labored carefully around it and under the watchful eye of Koenig who flew in from Germany to oversee the operation, moved it to Battery Park as a “temporary” memorial. It was the full intent and promise by rebuilding officials to return it as the centerpiece of the future 9/11 memorial. Alas, the 13 member memorial jury of intellectuals, artists and other enlightened people felt that the Sphere, as a direct reminder of the attacks upon America had no place at the, you know, National September 11 Memorial to the attacks upon America. Arad felt that returning the Sphere would “tell people what to think.” Like, about the attacks. Visitors, Arad said, must have the freedom to think about 9/11 “or not.” Why we would spend a billion dollars for something they could do anywhere no one has ever explained. One might think that visitors are coming to this place specifically to think about 9/11; to confront it immediately and directly. Otherwise they might have gone to say, Coney Island. Or Topeka, KS. Somebody with humility might have felt that we, as witnesses to the death, destruction and loss, we had an obligation to preserve to the best of our ability the history of 9/11. As past generations did at a Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, Gettysburg and places such as Oradour-sur-Glane and Amritsar, India. At Oradour-sur-Glane, to speak forever to horrors committed there, the French people preserved the entire village as it was razed by the Nazis on their way to fight at Normandy. A few years ago, the iconic sign that greeted prisoners at Auschwitz, “Work sets you free,” was stolen. “It must be returned,” said a camp survivor, “so future generations will know.” At Ground Zero we intentionally dispose of authentic artifacts so visitors will not know. So, now, visitors to the memorial glade will stand with their backs to the Sphere and read a sign that tells them what these faux beat up stones symbolize. Let’s face it: the sad fact is this is not a commemoration of the 9/11 recovery workers or of 9/11. It’s a massive ego trip.

  2. Anything else nice to say? Understood, but sometimes, for whatever reason, what you expect or what is right isn't possible.

    • And why was restoring the Sphere as the centerpiece of the 9/11 memorial impossible? Except for the ego of the parties involved in choosing and designing the memorial? Who ignored everything the public called for in the memorial, which isn’t very nice. And disposing of an authentic artifact that survived the attacks and replacing it some abstract work of your own is nice? Not say, egotistical? Sorry, there’s not an ounce of humility to the memorial.

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