New Orleans, LA – The bell given in memory of the battle of Normandy sounded four times at the museum service, marking the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The ceremony dedicated to first responders also highlighted the link between the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the September 11th attacks. Museum President Nick Mueller says both events shocked and united the nation. And, he says, they can teach future generations.
"They remind Americans about the importance of vigilance and maintaining a strong national defense. They also remind us that we must study and learn and understand the cultural changes around the world and their meaning for us, whether they threaten our democracy or not."
New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson says she was a child when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but she remembers - and the similarities became clear in the attacks 10 years ago.
"Those of us who lived through all of this know the correlation but now the world will know the correlation. And the world will understand the importance of why we commemorate these occasions."
She thanked the first responders for their work not only in times of military threat, but during natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. She says she remembers fire departments coming to help New Orleans from around the nation.
Emergency Services Chief Joel Domangue of the Louisiana Fire Marshal's office says New Orleans has a close bond with New York. He says after the 9-11 attacks, a new fire truck dubbed the Spirit of Louisiana' was delivered to New York City on Christmas Day 2001.
"We showed them hospitality and saw a lot of the friends we had there over the years, and cooked some gumbo and some jambalaya and do what Louisiana people do. If you feed them they'll love you forever, so we have a very special bond with New York City."
And when Katrina hit, he says, New York responded in a convoy.
"Lo and behold the Spirit of Louisiana' was on a flatbed, and they gave it to the City of New Orleans because the people of Louisiana needed it more than they did. So it's a very special story. A lot of people really don't realize the magnitude of a fire truck. It's a very, very historic piece of equipment."
Retired Captain Patricia Mack of the New York state police court office attended in uniform, with her husband. She was given a standing ovation when introduced and commended for running three blocks to the World Trade Center when she saw the attack out her classroom window.
"People often ask me, since I was assigned to an academy as a training instructor, you know, Did you have to go there that day?' And my answer is the same always. Yes. I had to go there that day. Whether you are in the police department or you're in the fire department, if people need help, people in uniform go to help them. And that's what we do. And if you were in a hole somewhere and you couldn't get out, you'd want somebody to come and get you."
Honor guards representing the military, state and local police and fire departments marched through the museum's main hall, beneath allied war planes suspended from the ceiling. Flowers were then placed at the relic of the World Trade Center north tower that's now outside the museum.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming