NEW YORK – Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is launching an initiative and fundraiser to focus on teaching the history of this deadly day to a younger generation.
The Never Forget Fund aims to support educational programs that allow students, educators and others to better understand the history of 9/11 and how it shaped the world.
The biggest Never Forget initiative marks the 20th anniversary of September 11 and will include a commemorative ticket for admission, said Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the memorial and museum.
“It’s a time of transition,” Greenwald told USA TODAY. For millions of Americans, September 11 remains a vivid memory etched in their minds, but for a younger generation, “they don’t have that memory. To them, it’s history,” he said. she declared.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in a series of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Two planes hijacked by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda landed on the World Trade Center in New York, causing the towers to collapse later during the day. Just outside Washington, another hijacked plane landed at the Pentagon. A hijacked fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania as passengers and crew attempted to retake the cockpit.
Ten years later, the memorial was inaugurated on the site of the World Trade Center, with the museum opening to the public in May 2014.
The museum plans to return to its traditional ceremony for the 2021 anniversary, which includes a reading of the names of the victims and the “Tribute to Light,” where two lights are projected into the sky symbolizing the Twin Towers.Last year, name reading was prerecorded as a social distancing measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The pandemic also forced the museum to temporarily close its doors when the epidemic began in New York City last March. It reopened at limited capacity for the 19th anniversary, Greenwald said. “Our business model collapsed overnight,” as more than 90% of operating expenses were covered by admissions and expenses inside the museum, she noted.
She hopes the 20th anniversary will coincide with renewed museum attendance as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and tourism rebounds in the city.
To mark the occasion, a commemorative $ 50 bill will be available, which includes admission and a metal plaque featuring the words “Never Forget” and an image of the Twin Towers.
The museum is also releasing a PSA video for its Never Forget Fund, which features music by John Legend and an appearance by Chloe Downey, the granddaughter of FDNY Special Operations Command Chief Raymond M. Downey, who was killed in the line of duty on September 11.
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On each anniversary, the museum also creates a video that teachers can show in classrooms and spark discussion about what can be a difficult topic to teach at the start of the school year, Greenwald said.
This year will focus particularly on the next generation; “Young people talking to young people,” said Greenwald.
One of the speakers is the daughter of a pilot who was killed in one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and who subsequently formed a friendship with the great Yankee Derek Jeter. Another speaker is one of the students at Florida Elementary School where President George W. Bush was reading in a classroom when his chief of staff whispered in his ear informing him that the second plane had struck. towers.
After the anniversary, the museum plans to continue the fundraising effort indefinitely to strengthen its educational programming. Donations are accepted online at neverforgetfund.org.
“Everything about the ‘Never Forget’ initiative actually relates to the same set of themes, namely that our obligation to remember does not end in 20 years,” said Greenwald. “It is an ongoing requirement, and it is a privilege as well as an obligation to remember.”
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For Greenwald, focusing on education around New York City, the nation, and the world’s responses after 9/11 remains a core part of the museum’s mission – what the organization calls September 12, or Day of after.
“The museum talks as much about September 11 as it is about September 11,” she said. “The 9/12 aspect of this story is this response of compassion and empathy, of commitment to service to others.”
This is even more important as the city, nation and world recover once again from the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“We have within us the ability to face adversity with hope and resilience,” said Greenwald. “We’re doing it. That’s the 9/12 message. It’s built into the Never Forget Fund.”
Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller