(by Tom Topousis, NYPost.com) — At today’s anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, victims’ families will take their first steps on the long-awaited Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center — a move that planners hope will allay fears that the project won’t be done by the 10th anniversary.
“The World Trade Center site truly can no longer be called a pit,” said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who repeated his agency’s vow that the plaza will open by Sept. 11, 2011.
A year ago, the bistate agency that owns the site wasn’t as certain of the memorial’s opening date, suggesting only a temporary unveiling for the 10th anniversary. But Ward yesterday said that enough steel had been put up to be certain that the project will be done by 2011.
With construction pushing forward, officials yesterday took the wraps off plans for some of the exhibitions that will be featured in a museum beneath the plaza that’s expected to open a year after the memorial.
But the museum could draw controversy over plans to include mentions of the 19 hijackers among the exhibits.
Visitors to the museum interested in paying their respects to the innocents who died in the attacks will read the terrorists’ vile words — printed excerpts of their martyrdom tapes will be included alongside their photos.
Memorial and museum officials defended their inclusion of the terrorists as the best way to show that these were evil men bent on committing mass murder in an attack on the United States.
“Two things are going to be clear when someone visits this site — first and foremost this museum and memorial are all about the individuals who were killed on that day,” said memorial president Joseph Daniels.
“Equally as important, we are going to explore why the attacks happened and people will leave here knowing that the crimes and tragedies and the atrocities that were committed were committed by evil people trying to commit mass murder and that is something we are unequivocal about.”
But Daniels said no presentation would include the terrorists’ voices.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother was a pilot on the airliner that the hijackers crashed into the Pentagon, said she agreed with the inclusion of the hijackers.
“One thing I feel strongly about is that we tell the truth about what happened and we don’t sanitize it,” said Burlingame
Museum officials said that they plan to include advisories throughout the galleries wherever visitors might find an image or exhibit that some could find disturbing.
When opened in 2011, the eight-acre Memorial Plaza will include more than 400 trees now being cared for at a New Jersey nursery. The trees will begin to be trucked to the World Trade Center next year.
Daniels said the trees will grow to between 20 and 30 feet tall, and create a green canopy over the memorial.
Write to Tom Topousis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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1. When will the Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center open?
2. When will the museum to be built beneath the Memorial Plaza open?
3. Part of the museum’s exhibit will be printed excerpts of the terrorists’ statements about their planned attack, alongside their photos. There is some controversy over whether the evil terrorists should be acknowledged at all. What is the purpose of including information on the terrorists, according to memorial and museum officials?
4. a) Who is Debra Burlingame?
b) What does she think about this issue?
c) What do you think? Explain your answer.
5. Visit the websites in “Resources” below. Read “Steve’s Story” at pentagonattack911. How should the U.S. view the “War on Terror?” What type of support should we give to our military in Afghanistan?