WORLD TRADE CENTER (PIX11) — Tales of heroism conquering hate were retold Thursday as a balm to the wounds revisited at a dedication ceremony for the September 11 Memorial Museum.
President Barack Obama joined thousands of survivors, first responders and victims’ families inside the lower Manhattan museum 70 feet below the towers where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.
Obama shared the story of Welles Crowther, who was just 24 years old and working as an equities trader at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Working on the 104th floor of the south tower, the volunteer firefighter wrapped his face in a signature red bandana and spent his final moments saving others.
He carried one woman to safety on his back for 17 flights, then trekked back up the stairs to try to save more.
“Those we lost live on in us, in the families who love them still, in the friends who remember them always and in a nation that will honor them now and forever,” Obama said.
Forever bound by that day, the rescuer’s mother, Alison, and the mother of someone he saved, Ling Young, spoke before the crowd Thursday morning.
“My husband Jefferson and I could not be more proud of our son. For us, he lives on in the people he helped and in the memory of what he chose to do that Tuesday in September,” Alison Crowther said.
“Welles believed that we are all connected as one human family, that we are here to look out for and to care for one another. This is life’s most precious meaning.
“It is our greatest hope that when people come here and see Welles’ red bandana, they will remember how people helped each other that day and we hope they will be inspired to do the same in ways both big and small. This is the true legacy of September 11.”
One of Crowther’s red bandanas is among the thousands of artifacts that were ordinary when that tragic September day began, and soon became poignant symbols of heroism and heartbreak.
The museum initially will be open exclusively to the roughly 45,000 survivors, first responders and victims’ loved ones. It is scheduled to open to the public May 21.
Admission will be $24 per person in order to maintain the massive collection. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said federal funds are being sought to drop that price, possibly to free.