The 9/11 museum, dedicated to the tragic events of September 11th 2001 and the 2,983 people who perished that fatal day, will open to the public next week. It is one of America's largest and most ambitious memorial museums, and it has been hit by criticism by some and praise by others.
IrishCentral spoke to Ron Clifford this week to hear his thoughts on the opening of the museum and how he feels almost 13 years after the tragedy that would forever change his family.
Ron’s sister Ruth Clifford McCourt, 45, and her four-year-old daughter, Juliana, were among the passengers on board that fatal United flight 175. On the ground at the World Trade Center that dreadful day, Ron narrowly escaped death himself.
Asked how he felt about the opening of the museum here in New York this week, Clifford said that it was a very hard question for him to answer.
Pausing, the Cork native said: “We are very respectful of our dead.
“I have thought about the opening of the museum on many occasions, I have thought about my sisters remains and those of little Juliana.
“Interring the remains of the dead who were never identified there is the respectful thing to do and this week is a poignant one for the families of the victims and heroes of that fatal day.”
Ron explained that he has never been able to bring himself down to where the Twin Towers once stood over the Manhattan skyline, “It’s too painful to ever go there, and while I respect the efforts and ideals behind the memorial and museum, I will not be attending the opening.”
“It’s a very poignant tribute where everyone can pay homage to their loved ones, it serves as a very eloquent and poignant reminder of the day that changed New York.”
Clifford explained that the museum serves the purpose of remembrance for this generation but also for the next, who need to be informed of the awful tragedy and loss that unfolded in 2001.
“We need to inform the next generation. There are children who now visit the memorial who weren’t even born in 2001, so for that purpose we need to keep memories alive.
“The one thing that I do harbour anger against is the fact that the trials in Guantanamo Bay have never taken place.
“Somebody needs to step up to the plate in Washington and get this done, the only thing I want is to go to Guantanamo Bay for the trials, the only thing I have wanted.”
He added: “What’s taking place next week is an amazing event, it helps to remember for the next generation.”
While some families have spoken of the dismay that the museum is bringing to them, Ron hopes that with the advancement in science in the next couple of years that the identification of the unknown remains will be discovered and part of him does wonder if they will find those of his sister and niece who perished.
He recalls that the only time he has been down around the now-memorial is when he got a flat tyre in the middle of the night, across from where the towers once stood.
He said he looked up to the sky and said “Thanks Sis.”