NEW YORK – A path flanked by six stone meant to symbolize strength and determination will be added to the Sept. 11 memorial site in lower Manhattan, in honor of the rescue and recovery workers who worked for months at ground zero, officials announced Wednesday at the unveiling of the concept.
The new area will also serve as a way to honor those who became ill or died from exposure to the toxic substances in the environment after the twin towers fell.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have been exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site, both on the day of 9/11 and during the months of recovery operations that followed,” Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, said in a statement.
She added: “Through the integration of meaningful public spaces on the memorial, we try to recognize all people for whom 9/11 has remained an all-too-present reality.”
The announcement was on the day of the memorial and museum, the annual commemoration of the rescue and recovery effort, which was officially ended on May 30, 2002.
The idea for the space was announced last year, with officials assisted by former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, a member of the board of the museum who has been an outspoken advocate of the Zadroga Act, which provides health benefits to workers who got ill after the attacks.
He said in his statement: “These men and women sacrificed themselves for the rest of us have spent many years suffering and dying because of it. We have long owed to them, to honor them for their contributions. It is also important for us to recognize that the people who have died or are suffering who were exposed to World Trade Center toxins while working in lower Manhattan or called the community their home.”
The new space was designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, the men who came up with the concept for the reflecting pools and surrounding trees, Sept. 11 memorial and plaza.
The path on the southwest corner of the plaza will be loosely in the vicinity of the disaster that was used to remove material from the site during the gruelling nine-month effort to clear it. It will end up near the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that was heavily damaged in the attack but nursed back to health and replanted on the site.
The six stones are placed along the path, pointing upward. In his design statement, Arad said: “these stones are rough and worn, and their angle suggests a powerful resistance, is a response to the violence that is brought before them.”
The plan for the area also includes the recording of a text inscription to go along with the stones, which consist of steel of the original World Trade Center, visitors will be able to touch.