Governor George E. Pataki today joined with victims’ families, survivors, rescue workers, and Lower Manhattan employees and residents to announce the start of construction on two important interim memorial initiatives. StoryCorps, the acclaimed oral history project, is opening a recording booth in the World Trade Center PATH station that will record audio reminiscences from September 11th family members, friends, survivors, visitors, and rescue workers about those lost on September 11th, 2001 and in the 1993 bombings. The Tribute Center, located directly across from the World Trade Center site at 120 Liberty Street, will be dedicated to educating the public about September 11th. While the World Trade Center memorial is being built over the next four years, these two initiatives will serve as additional settings to remember loved ones, the events of September 11th, and the ensuing rescue and recovery efforts through firsthand accounts. The World Trade Center Memorial, Reflecting Absence, will break ground early next year and open in 2009.
“Building a lasting tribute to honor those we lost at the World Trade Center site continues to be the centerpiece of our rebuilding efforts,” Governor Pataki said. “Both the Tribute Center and StoryCorps will help ensure that families and survivors have a way to remember their loved ones while the Memorial is under construction. The StoryCorps booth will also provide an opportunity to visitors, residents and all those who wish to share their memories and thoughts on September 11th. Once the Memorial is built, these memories will become an enduring part of the Memorial Center’s permanent collection. Both the Tribute Center and StoryCorps will help ensure that we never forget what happened on September 11th and that we will always remember the many heroes we lost”
LMDC President Stefan Pryor said, “It is crucial that family members and friends be able to remember and honor their loved ones. These interim memorial projects will make that possible and are an essential part of the healing process. These two initiatives will serve as a vital complement to the permanent memorial, Reflecting Absence, and the Memorial Center, which will tell the individual and collective stories of September 11, 2001.”
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, "It is critical that we continue to rebuild this site as a lasting memorial to the thousands of people who died on 9/11. It is equally important that we never forget what happened here nearly four years ago. This StoryCorps booth will ensure that those memories live on. I'm also pleased that we will be opening the Tribute Center adjacent to the World Trade Center site early next year so that visitors and others can learn more about the events of 9/11."
Norene Schneider who lost her brother Tommy Sullivan on September 11th said, "I am honored to be here today and be a part of something that has changed my life and will change innumerable others, too. For the first time in a long time, I've felt more alive because of what StoryCorps has done for me and my family. I am hopeful that through the telling of our stories, the families who lost a loved one will not only grow closer together, but also help each other heal."
David Isay of Sound Portraits Productions said, “We are honored and humbled to be a part of the efforts to memorialize the lives of those lost on September 11th. We hope that this booth will serve as a beacon of hope and memory at the site, and a safe and sacred space for families. It will also be a valuable resource to historians. I believe that there is no better way to capture a person’s soul and spirit than through the intimacy of the voice.”
The new StoryCorps booth will open July 12, 2005. StoryCorps is a national project to instruct and inspire Americans to record one another’s stories in sound. The StoryBooth will be open to the general public, but sessions will be reserved for those directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Created by Dave Isay, StoryCorps seeks to capture the stories of our time and to create meaningful experiences within families. With 2,000 stories already collected from the project’s first year, StoryCorps, the largest oral history project ever undertaken, will collect more than 250,000 interviews over the next ten years.
At the booth, a trained facilitator helps participants create an interview question list and handle the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of a forty-minute session, the participants will be given a CD of their interview. With their permission, a second copy will be sent to the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress where it will be preserved for generations to come. This collection will eventually grow into an oral history of America. The WTC booth will be the second free-standing recording studio opened by StoryCorps, the first booth opened in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in October 2003.
Tribute Center President Sally Yerkovich said, “The Tribute Center offers the public a single place to stop on their learning journey to understand what happened to our country and remember the many people who lost their lives here. Tribute is designed to help us remember the attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001, the unprecedented rescue and recovery operations, and the tremendous spirit that united us in the wake of the attacks.”
September 11th Widows and Victims Families’ Association Vice-President Lee Ielpi who lost his 29-year old son Jonathan on September 11th said, “Tribute will be a place where we can all come to make sure America and the world remember the tragedy of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001, the inspiration of humanity that responded and the changes shaping our world since September 11th. I think about my son every day. I talk about him and I miss him dearly, as all of our families miss our loved ones because they were taken in such a tragic way. The Tribute Center will give them a voice and help us all to remember, share and heal.”
The Tribute Center at 120 Liberty Street will serve as the central place for information and reflection until the World Trade Center Memorial is constructed and dedicated. The Center is a project of the non-profit September 11th Widows and Victims Families’ Association, which was founded shortly after the tragedy to advocate for victims and their families. The plans include a gallery, exhibits, educational programs, and walking tours around the World Trade Center site conducted by volunteer guides from the September 11th community.
Beginning in November 2005, four months before the opening of the Tribute Center itself, the Tribute Center’s Docent Program will begin daily public tours of the World Trade Center site from various points around the perimeter. Tribute docents will tell the story of the attacks on February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the WTC site, and will incorporate the history and future development of the WTC site. Experts in the academic, performing arts, spiritual and therapeutic disciplines have participated in the design and implementation of this comprehensive training, enabling volunteers to further their healing process. Connecting the public with people who were personally affected by the attacks helps to further ensure that those who perished and the remarkable response of those who helped afterwards are never forgotten.
LMDC has provided $500,000 in funding to StoryCorps and up to $3 million to the Tribute Center, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has provided spac