Water flowed into the footprints of the fallen World Trade Center towers, now twin reflecting pools, as the completed National September 11 Memorial opened for the first time today to family members on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
The pools, nearly an acre each in size, are lined with bronze panels inscribed with the 2,983 names of those who died in the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001, and the six people who died in the 1993 WTC bombing.
The memorial incorporated nearly 1,200 requests from victims' families to place the names near those of loved ones, co-workers and friends. It covers half of the 16-acre site, and contains 150 trees.
More than 400 swamp white oak trees were selected from within a 500-mile radius of the site to surround the reflecting pools. Additional trees from the Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., areas that also suffered attacks, will also be planted. Swamp white oaks turn a range of colors in the fall, and so in a few months the memorial will be protected by a canopy of amber, golden brown and pink leaves.
James Pappageorge, a firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, working at Ground Zero, left behind his fiancée, Gina Pinos, who didn't have a chance to tell him she'd taken a pregnancy test the night before and was expecting a baby. Pinos said the memorial is "a good thing" because "Sept. 11 is a story that should continue to be told."
See the Memorial Here
The memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. The two men were selected from an international design competition in 2003 that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
Arad said he wanted to make what was absent, visible.
"I think when you take in the scale of the space, and you see these close to 1,500 names that surround each pool, it's a moment of comprehension," he said. "It's not an easy moment, it shouldn't be, it's a sad moment. But it's a sad moment of understanding what happened that day. As you stand here I wanted people to be able to have that moment of quiet and thoughtful contemplation."