NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The National September 11 Memorial and Museum held a dedication ceremony 9/11 Memorial Glade on Thursday morning.
Marking 17 years since 9/11 rescue, recovery and relief efforts officially ended at Ground Zero, the $5 million project honors all those who are suffering or have died from exposure to toxins following 9/11.
They risked their lives on 9/11 and paid a terrible price, some with their health, others with their lives.
9/11 Memorial Glade Full Dedication Ceremony
An honor guard and sounds of patriotism to marked today's dedication ceremony in the sacred place.
More than 95,000 people still suffer from 9/11 related illnesses, including first responders who spent weeks working on the pile.
People like Salvatore Turturici, who now has stage 4 liver cancer.
"What's in your heart?" asked CBS2's Scott Rapoport.
"It warms my heart that we are finally getting recognized, but it makes me sad because many people died and are still dying," he replied.
The 9/11 Memorial Glade is an outdoor plaza, of sorts, with grass, hence the term "glade." The glade is a pathway adjacent to the Memorial's south pool. It is marked by six monoliths, massive 17-ton slabs of granite along the path.
The design incorporates steel from the original World Trade Center inlaid in the stones, which point skyway, symbolizing strength and determination through adversity, reported Rapoport.
"At least now there's a place where people can come and remember what they did," said widow Kimberly McDonagh. She placed the helmet of her deceased firefighter husband on the stones.
Lt. Joseph McDonagh was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer years after working amidst the rubble at Ground Zero. He died in 2017.
"I think he'd love it here," Kimberly McDonagh said.
Today's ceremony comes exactly 17 years after the ceremony marking the end of recovery operations at the World Trade Center site.
But the suffering continues.
"It's tough to see your friends get sick and wither away," said retired firefighter Rob Serra.
CBSN New York: Alice Greenwald of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial Glade is for them, designed to remember the courage, sacrifice and selflessness of those who toiled in the aftermath of our darkest day.
"Everyone who was here is part of the cleanup and memorializing the growing number of people who are affected by 9/11-related illnesses," said Director of Engineering Joseph Flannigan.
No names will be included on the memorial, because that list is constantly changing as more people get sick. According to the World Trade Center Health Program, more than 2,100 people have died from 9/11-related illnesses.
The designers hope the Glade will be a peaceful place to reflect and grow, a place to lay flowers, honor cherished loved ones or just simply to experience the exquisite comfort from a gentle touch.
"By telling these stories of courage, bravery, perseverance, a willingness to sacrifice for others, that people will then commit themselves to living in that same spirit, in that same way," Tim McGuirk said.
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