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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”