Mobile exhibit: Never Forget 9/11



By Cynthia Price
Legal News

So urgent is the desire to honor those who died in the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center that, on Tuesday, hundreds of people either escorted the mobile 9/11 Never Forget exhibit to its destination at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum or greeted it on its arrival.

Members of the Grand Rapids Police, the Patriot Guard, and the Rolling Thunder motorcyclists (and other related motorcycle groups such as the Axemen) met up with the mobile exhibit on I-196 and accompanied the truck on its journey to the museum.

The Patriot Guard is a group of people who attend events to honor those who lost their lives serving our country, often mistakenly thought to be a motorcycle club but in reality open to everyone who can get word of events through the Internet. They held a brief ceremony at a rest area on I-196, including the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer, and a safety briefing, before the exhibit got underway again.

New York City Fire Department Battalion Chiefs, who were on-site at the 9/11 attacks, came into town along with the exhibit.

“It’s an honor to escort the exhibit to the museum and to lead the West Michigan community along the way,” Lieutenant Michael Maycroft of GRPD said in a prepared statement. “We’re fortunate to have this exhibit on 9/11, and we’d love to share this experience with others in the community.”

In addition, there to welcome the exhibit as it came to rest at the Ford Museum were numerous members of the public, local fire and public safety departments, and the President Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The cleverly-built exhibit was then open to the public, free, Sept. 10-11.

The Boy Scouts of America also held its sunrise-to-sunset salute and community remembrance Sept. 11, as they have every year since 2002.

A number of additional commemorative events took place Thursday, including a bell rung at the hour of each of the 2001 attacks, to honor all those who lost their lives.

In a brief ceremony at noon, Ken Chudy, Battalion Chief, Muskegon Fire Department (whose 9/11 memorabilia was covered in the Grand Rapids Legal News for 9/13/2013), introduced Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and Brigadier Gen. Michael McDaniel of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School for brief remarks. 

McDaniel said that he hopes for a rededication to the principles that guided the U.S. through the tragic events of 9/11 and praised the concepts in the Boy Scout pledge, adding that one of his proudest accomplishments was becoming an Eagle Scout.

At the same time, hundreds lined up to go through the 9/11 Never Forget experience at the exhibit. The previous day’s stormy weather was off-putting, but plenty of people had braved it.

The mobile exhibit is a product of The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Stephen Siller gave his life during the 9/11 attack, but the foundation more broadly honors those in the military as well as first responders who make critical sacrifices in service to the public safety and welfare.

One of the foundation’s most important contributions is its alliance with Building for America’s Bravest, which helps build customized “smart homes” to ease the challenges faced by seriously injured veterans.

The exhibit devotes a panel to Kyle Hockenberry, who lost both legs and one arm while serving in Afghanistan. Photographers captured his prophetic tattoo, “For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice,” and he became an icon for the painful fate of young servicemen. The Tunnel to Tower Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation and others, including the local television station in Ohio, raised funds for Hockenberry to have his own smart home.

The exhibit is divided into three sections covering the history of the World Trade Center, the events at Ground Zero on 9/11 and the story of the foundation and Building for America's Bravest program. Included are videos, first-responder radio communications, and artifacts specially selected by members of the New York City Fire Department.

“Children and their families are able to learn about the historic events of 9/11 through this exhibit...,” said Joe Calvaruso, chair of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “This exhibit eternalizes the individuals who gave their lives and ensures that we will never forget that day.”