100,000 Non-Forgetters

Updated: 01-16-2007 04:00:38 PM

Firehouse.Com Contributor

100,000 Non-Forgetters Commentary by Chief Billy Goldfeder-Firehouse.com
At about 1500 hours today (Tuesday, January 16, 2007) the September 11th Families Association Tribute WTC Visitor Center in New York City hosted visitor number 100,000 when 151 more people entered the center...100,000 people who have been driven to new levels of never forgetting. 100,000 people who have taken the time to learn and further understand what the attacks and the murders on us have meant. And how it effected our country - and how every one of us is still deeply impacted. Some just didn't realize it.

While I had visited "Tribute" last spring and then again this summer during construction, we were there last week - my first time since it had opened on September 18th, 2006. And while everyone will judge in their own way, I thought "Tribute" was perfect. Incredible. Horrible. Heroic. Deeply emotional. Re-shocking. Perfect.

Thanks to the many of you, firefighters and your families, who were a part of the first 100,000 people to visit "Tribute NYC" in order to experience and even better understand the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the way those who were there, and the families of those murdered, wanted it. After all, every single bit of "Tribute"...literally EVERYTHING, was planned, designed and exhibited by those who know...the one's who experienced the never ending loss of their loved ones. NOW is the time to plan on going to see it. You really need to see it. Sound like begging? Whatever it takes.

The Tribute WTC Visitor Center is a place where members of the September 11th community can connect with the thousands of visitors who come to Ground Zero daily. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers real "Person to Person" History, linking those that need to understand and appreciate these historic events with those that experienced them.

While you will experience so many items starting with the early days of the WTC, to historic video, to radio transmissions from 9/11... and from photos, drawings and very personal effects, most importantly, as a firefighter - there is a great deal of very specific items that will impact you - personally.

For example, a bunker coat and helmet:

"The coat tells the story of what these men and thousands of other people went through on September 11th. It's ripped right down the back, it was ripped right off of him. Some guys from Rescue 2 were there when the coat was found and they gave it to me. Jonathan's helmet was found one or two weeks after we found Jonathan. The helmet is the symbol of every fireman, it's his signature piece that's been blackened and bent by many years of fighting fires. 343 firefighters were lost at the site but only 12 to 15 full helmets were found."
--Lee Ielpi, retired FDNY, father of Jonathan Ielpi, Squad 288 FDNY. (More about Jonathan and Lee at: http://www.squad288.com/tributetojohnielpi.html

Plan your trip to NYC now. Go with the Brother and Sister members from your FD or Company. Make it a "FD" road trip. Go as a family. Go by yourself. Whatever...just GO...it will matter. Trust me on this. http://www.tributenyc.org/.

The Tribute WTC Visitor Center in New York City is lead by the September 11th Families Association: http://www.911families.org/ and is located right next door to "10" House on Liberty Street.