The 9/11 memorial, more formally known as The National September 11 Memorial, no longer requires passes in order to gain admittance. The memorial is completely open to the public, with no more lines or reservations needing to be made.
Workers removed the fences surrounding the memorial, and a notice was published to on the website of The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in order to alert the public to the changes. The lack of any kind of barrier means that visitors can enter the memorial site directly from either Liberty Street or Vesey Street, between which the eight acre memorial site stretches.
The memorial began construction in 2006. The site was declared open to the public, with the aforementioned restrictions, on September 12, 2011, just one day after the 10th anniversary 9/11. It consists of reflecting pools, a waterfall, and white swamp oak trees whose leaves turn golden in the fall. One of these trees is entitled the Survivor Tree, as it miraculously survived the initial devastation and was preserved for replanting. Also part of the memorial are nearly 3000 bronze panels which bear the names of those who died in the tragedy that was 9/11. Inside, the last foundation column that remained after the the wreckage of the towers is on display. The story of what happened that fateful day is told through a series of multimedia displays, narratives and archives, as well as important artifacts from the ruins.
United States President Barack Obama delivered an official dedication of the memorial on May 15, 2014. The president delivered a subdued but powerful message honoring both those who had lost their lives in the tragedy, and all those who had done their very best to help, regardless of their profession.
Although there are certainly benefits to the idea that the 9/11 memorial no longer requires passes, it is felt by some that this takes away the legitimacy of what the site stands for. By taking away the fences and allowing anyone to freely visit the site, it is thought by those most affected by the tragedy that it turns the associated area into something that is less of a place for mourners to grieve than it is a tourist attraction. The open access to an area with the beautiful trees, reflecting pools, and a waterfall could very much inspire those passing through to act as if it is any other sightseeing venue. Officials involved in constructing the memorial, however, have stated that the memorial being able to blend into nature was one of the main goals, considering many of its features are part of nature. The idea was for the memorial to re-instill hope into the city who had lost so much, and the installment of beautiful trees and water that sparkled under the sun was supposed to help them reach this goal. Allowing the memorial to be situated in a place that is surrounded by the joys of daily life allowed for mourners to realize that they could still go on even after the horrific event.
It remains to be seen whether or not it will be a beneficial choice in deciding that the 9/11 memorial no longer requires passes. However, those who wish to pay their respects will certainly find it easier to do so without the previous restrictions.
by Rebecca Grace