Sept. 11 memorial travels to Lexington

By Jennifer Graham

A traveling memorial dedicated to the victims of Sept. 11 will pass through Lexington tomorrow to raise awareness of a new permanent memorial at Ground Zero in New York City.

The memorial will run from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Cheapside Park and is free to the public.

“It is important to reach out to Americans across the country,” said Lynn Rasic, vice president of public affairs for the National Sept. 11 Memorial. “Our feeling is that we have an obligation to get people to remember.”

Mayor Jim Newberry and first responder representatives Fire Chief Robert G. Hendricks and Police Chief Anthony Beatty will participate in the opening ceremony honoring Kentucky first responders at 10:30 a.m.

Susan Straub, Newberry’s communications director, said the city invited first responders from all across Kentucky to attend the ceremony, and she expects people from the police and fire departments along with the Salvation Army and Red Cross to attend.

“There is not a person in the country that Sept. 11 didn’t affect,” she said.

The memorial, which started in Columbia, S.C., is touring through 25 cities in 25 states across the country, spreading awareness about the Sept. 11 memorial and museum that will open in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The tour will end in December.

“We would like to see as many people as possible visit the memorial in Lexington,” Rasic said. “In other cities, we’ve seen turnouts into the thousands.”

Lexington is the memorial’s only stop in Kentucky.

Citizens will have the chance to walk though a photo exhibition, which leads to a bus where people can watch a seven-minute movie about Sept. 11 and people affected by the tragedy.

Another room will house artifacts of the scene, including firefighters’ uniforms. Outside of the bus, people can learn more about the day or donate money to the permanent memorial at Ground Zero at different kiosks.

The tour offers Kentuckians the chance to be a part of the permanent memorial as well. The National Sept. 11 Memorial is traveling with steel beams for people to sign that will be a part of the memorial.

“The memorial gives people a chance to be a part of history,” Rasic said. “So far we’ve had about 12,000 people sign the beams.”