How The One World Trade Center Pays Tribute To 9/11

The morning of September 11, 2001, forever lives in the memory of so many across the world. For the families of people working in the World Trade Center, the first responders, and those in the aircraft, it is a day that they will continue to think about for the rest of their lives.

It's been 20 years since that fateful morning of the terrorist attacks, and tributes have started to pour in. Memorials become more critical now that there is a generation of children who grew up in its aftermath. And one place in New York City will pull out all the stops to make sure people remember that day with the respect it deserves.

One World Trade Center, sometimes called the Freedom Tower, stands in the same area where the Twin Towers once stood. One World Trade, along with other World Trade Center buildings, surrounds two of the most permanent memorials to the victims of 9/11. Two fountains, which flow downward, sit where the two Trade Center towers were. Around the fountains are the engraved names of the victims. The Washington Post reported that volunteers place white roses on the names of people who would've celebrated their birthdays that day every year. It's also at this site that the names of the victims are usually read aloud every September 11. 

The other memorial tells a larger story. The One World Trade Center hosts a museum as tribute to 9/11, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the One World Observatory.

A controversial museum

One of the more evocative memorials is the 9/11 Museum, which opened in May 2014 and holds fragments found in the rubble of the Twin Towers. The museum was meant to bring together a complete picture of the two different attacks on the World Trade Center, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and of course 9/11. Inside lies a portion of the slurry wall that held back waters of the river. That wall amazingly stayed intact even as the two buildings above it crashed to the ground. It also has a tall steel pillar. Called "The Last Column," it was the last piece of the World Trade Center removed from the rubble. Families of the victims had inscribed the names of their loved ones onto the pillar. There are even exhibits with vehicles that were crushed by the falling towers and personal belongings of many who were impacted by the events of that day. 

Though parts of its creation were embroiled in controversy, as reported by The New York Times, the museum tries to bring the story of September 11 to life. And while some family members have said the museum's existence turns their tragedy into a tourist attraction, it offers a room where families can mourn away from the public.

Reclaiming the memory

Many people may not consider the One World Trade Observatory as a memorial to 9/11. Some think it's purely a place for tourists. After all, it may be another way for some tourists to see a view of the city from above and an alternative to the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Up in the observatory, people can see not just all of downtown Manhattan but the rest of the borough. It also offers beautiful vistas of Brooklyn. On clear days, you can even see the Statue of Liberty in all her glory. While all of that might be true for some people, an observatory also shows the resiliency of people and the city of New York.

The observatory was one of the last things to be completed at One World Trade. The World Trade Center website wrote the building's base is the same footprint as the original Twin Towers. But the current structure rises as if a beam of light. And making the light metaphor real is an actual beam of light projected from the top of the building every night. The observatory sits at the very top of the building. Here, visitors can see the city open to them, reclaiming a view that terrorists tried to destroy. It reminds the world just how strong we all are.

"Rise and Fall: The World Trade Center" premieres September 10 on The History Channel. The trailer is posted on YouTube.