National September 11 Memorial Museum opens to public

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The first members of the general public took in the very emotional elements of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and for some, the experience was much more than they expected.

"I didn't think it would be as extensive as it was and I didn't think I would be so sadden once again," James Koppel said.

So emotional is the journey, through a tragic history, and now the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Some visitors say they need to take slowly. But a visit Elene Contegiacomo and her friend had to make.

"I think it's important to their memory," Elene said.

"For all the people that lost the families and everything, it's something to remember. It's beautiful," Sophie Mazurkiewicz said.

The first of the 5,000 visitors anticipated for this opening day began entering the museum early. They say many moved slowly through exhibits showing the twisted metal of this fire truck to the last tower of steel left standing to the hall of faces, a moving tribute to the victims.

"They weren't my family, but they are my family because I am American. It was just beautiful," Grace Smith said.

Smith brought 14 members of her family from Trenton. This was their way to honor the victims and to educate their youngest family members.

"She hears a lot about it, so I wanted to bring her first hand so she could see what really took place," John Batts said.

"Very good for everyone for the kids, everything. I think it's very educational," Wendy Mora said.

Unfurling the special "National 9/11 Flag" on the memorial plaza marked the museum's opening to the public. The flag, recovered in tatters from ground zero and resewn, was then placed in the museum.

"The 9/11 Memorial Museum is a place of learning and reflection," Museum Director Alice Greenwald said.

You can learn more about the memorial and the museum at

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