NEW YORK — Surviving family members of those killed during the 9/11 terror attacks said this year's tribute and seeing the completion of the September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York made the solemn occasion "more peaceful" and "brought closure" for some. But one New Yorker whose brother was killed on 9/11 described his time spent at the memorial and museum as a "bitter sweet" experience, because it's a reminder of what's no longer there.
The event, which was held at the National September 11 Memorial in between the reflecting pools located on footprints of where the World Trade Center's twin towers used to stand, marked the first year the National September 11 Museum was open on the site during the anniversary of the attacks.
"I thought that the area around the memorial was really nice," said Long Island resident Lawrence Meltzer, whose brother, Stewart, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. "The completion of the museum made it a little bit more palatable so it was actually a prettier place."
Meltzer told The Christian Post that up until the 13th anniversary of 9/11, family members had to contend with looking around an empty pit as they memorialized their loved ones at the site where the twin towers once stood.
"For the last 13 years you started off in a pit and you'd walk around and it was dirty," he said. "As you walk around now as [the area] becomes more beautified, the existence makes it more peaceful."
He continued, "It makes [the site] nicer, but yet it's not what it was when it happened. The normal population will have a better experience because it looks beautiful, but it's also a reminder of what's [not] there."
Thus year, New York City handed over control of the memorial service to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Meltzer told CP he believes this is what enabled this year's memorial service to operate more smoothly.
Others survivors also agreed that this year's memorial service was a better experience than in pervious years.
"I lost my father in 9/11 and I thought [this year's] service was a great tribute to him," said Manhattan resident Casey Ray, who also attended the memorial service. "I thought we had more emotion than we did [during past years]."
New Hyde Park resident Shont Voskerijian also lost his father and elaborated a bit more on what the opening of the National September 11 Museum means to him.
"I went to the museum for the first time," Voskerijian told CP. "The foundation that made the museum did a very good job. It adds a lot of closure for some people."
The Memorial plaza is scheduled to reopen to the public at 6 p.m. Thursday. Visitors will then have the opportunity to view the Tribute in Light. This will be the first time the public will have access to the plaza on the anniversary to observe this tribute and commemorate Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center.