9/11 Artifacts Await Place in History
Friday, September 8, 2006; 7:58 AM
NEW YORK -- There are no bodies here _ just rusting chunks of steel twisted like ribbons, crushed cars and burned-out elevator motors. Off a service road at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a hangar that once housed Tower Air is now a gigantic graveyard for what's left of the twin towers.
Here are the trident columns that held up the 110-story buildings _ now broken, scorched and stacked on their sides. A piece of the 350-foot-long antenna that collapsed into the falling north tower looks big enough to fly into space.
Laid out like a coffin in a climate-controlled chamber is a 62-ton steel column _ the last one to be removed from ground zero eight months after the buildings fell, adorned with pictures of dead firefighters and messages scrawled by rescuers and ironworkers.
"Now you walk with angels," reads one. "May God keep you safe."
Twenty miles away, where the towers once stood nothing but two clean bedrock slabs 70 feet below the earth are there to tell the story of how nearly 2,800 people died on Sept. 11, 2001.
The objects in the hangar that return to ground zero will help shape a Sept. 11 story that in many ways is still been written.
"It's something that everyone experienced, but everyone experienced it differently," said Alice Greenwald, the director of the planned World Trade Center Memorial Museum. "There are many different interpretations of it. We have to look at how we want to convey the story."
The plans to memorialize the terrorist attacks have been revised again and again, but debates still rage about how to arrange names of the dead, whether to build on the twin towers' footprints and whether shattered pieces of the trade center should by the memorial.
"I'm one of those that will push for as graphic a representation we can do and stay within in the bounds of decency," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Burlingame said she wants news footage of the attacks to play in a memorial museum, and wants large remnants of the trade center to stand tall at the site to greet visitors.
But she said she is not yet ready for other parts of the story to be on display, such as the pictures of the 19 hijackers who took control of four jets that crashed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
"Will this be some kind of triumph for them?" she asked.