The National September 11 Memorial Museum is an "emotional place" that inspires both pride and "an overwhelming sense of sorrow," former New York Gov. George Pataki told Newsmax TV after attending the museum's solemn opening ceremonies.
Asked by "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth to describe his thoughts at Thursday's dedication, an audibly moved Pataki said, "That's not an easy thing to answer because it's such an emotional place, and the emotions conflict."
Pataki, the museum's honorary chairman, was among several dignitaries, including President Barack Obama, who joined with 9/11 survivors and families of victims at the morning ceremonies.
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Millions have already visited the renovated site of the 9/11 attacks — Ground Zero — where the bases of the World Trade Center's fallen twin towers now form a pair of submerged, open-air pools.
The completed museum next door tells the stories of victims, rescuers, survivors, and witnesses, using everything from video footage to a crushed fire engine to a three-story hall displaying pictures of the dead.
Pataki said the dedication was an experience that tugged him in different directions.
"First of all, there was a sense of pride because we have done what I hoped we would do, and that was to create a memorial and a museum where people who not only were not there on Sept. 11, but who weren't born, would understand the magnitude of the loss — the courage with which New Yorkers and Americans responded.
"And then we wanted to tell individual stories of everyone who died, so that they weren't just names or numbers. So I'm proud of that," he said.
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"On the other hand," he said, "you just can't help feeling an overwhelming sense of sorrow as you're going into the museum. It's just a sad experience, I'm sure, for everyone. But it's an important experience, so that people can have a sense of what it was like and what the people who died that day were like."
The museum opens to the general public May 21.
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