GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, people lined up all day outside Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library to see the 9/11 Never Forget Exhibit.
The traveling exhibit contained in a semi-trailer features artifacts and multimedia presentations about Sept. 11. For many, visiting it was a way to honor the memories of the thousands of people killed when commercial airplanes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.
“It’s actually pieces that you can feel and touch that are in there from the ladder companies. And there’s a story of a firefighter to died that day and had five kids ages 1 to 10, and that did get to me. There are so many stories in there of that,” Jason Decker said.
Decker brought his 4-year-old son Luke to the exhibit to teach him about the Sept. 11 attacks.
“This morning, actually, we were watching a little bit on TV about the buildings going down and he was interested. That’s why I brought him down here,” Decker said. “There’s two firefighters in there from New York. They were both there on the day and we got to meet them, shook Luke’s hand, and it’s very powerful.”
As the day wore on, the line to see the exhibit grew, stretching in a loop outside the museum. The memorial stayed open longer than anticipated to accommodate the long line. For most of the day, people waited only about 20 minutes.
JoAnne Martin was among those who waited in line. Sept. 11 is also her birthday — she turned 86 Thursday. Martin uses a walker and relied on her son Steve to describe some of the details of the exhibit because it’s becoming difficult for her to see.
Regardless, it was important to her to go to the mobile memorial.
“To be here, to see this, it’s just unreal,” she said. “To get that feeling of what people saw that day and their emotions.”
She said she would still like to go to New York and see Ground Zero in person, but the exhibit is enough for now.
“Makes you feel like you were there, but you’re glad you weren’t,” she said. “It’s a tragedy, what happened. Lives were lost. Building that were rebuilt. Pick up and carry on — that’s what Americans do.”