As the 9/11 Museum prepares to open this week, Voices of September 11th, one of the 9/11 Memorial Museum's partner organizations, continues a critical post-9/11 mission: helping families and communities heal after tragedy.
This noble mission not only extends to the families impacted by 9/11, but also to families and communities torn by tragedies in the years since, including the Sandy Hook shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the South Korea Ferry Disaster.
Voices of September 11th Founding Director Mary Fetchet, who lost her son, Brad, on 9/11, has channeled her own grief and the grief of thousands of other family members into VOICES' highly acclaimed work. Through grants from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, VOICES has developed best practices to help communities recover in the wake of disaster.
VOICES also provides information and support services that promote resiliency in the lives of victims' families and survivors and advocates for public policy reform that promotes national preparedness.
"The opening of the 9/11 Museum this week is an opportunity for our nation to pause and remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost and to recognize the work that remains in helping families, responders and survivors continue their recovery. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the generosity we felt from around the world, and the responsibility we have to give back to those in need," said Fetchet.
Fetchet congratulated the leadership and staff of the 9/11 Museum for their "tireless work" in building the museum. Fetchet, along with her husband Frank, will join President Obama and other dignitaries at the dedication ceremony this Thursday in Manhattan. "Together with other family members, we are honored to take part in this solemn dedication."
As a partner of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, VOICES helps families create a meaningful tribute to their loved ones in the Living Memorial Project, an online interactive tribute that commemorates the lives and preserves the stories of September 11, 2001. Today, the Living Memorial is an extensive collection of over 70,000 photographs and personal mementos that will be a core component of the In Memoriam exhibit at the 9/11 Museum.
"I love the Living Memorial because it shows that those who were lost on 9/11 were not statistics. They were people. Their personalities and the things that made them special come through in the Living Memorial Tributes that their families and friends put together," said Carol Ashley, mother of Janice Ashley, who was killed on 9/11. "Having the Living Memorial Tributes available to those who visit the 9/11 Museum is a wonderful way to honor the memory of my daughter and the thousands of other victims."
As the nation marks the latest post-9/11 milestone with this week's Museum opening, VOICES is finalizing a new Center of Excellence for Community Resilience. The Center will share best practices and promote healing in the lives of those impacted by mass violence through public/private partnerships that will include research, education and training to guide communities in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from traumatic events.
"The 9/11 Memorial Museum will help our nation and the world commemorate the events of 9/11 and the rescue and recovery operation through exhibits, oral histories and moving tributes to those lost," said Fetchet. "Our forthcoming VOICES Center for Community Resilience will be an important resource that will ensure the lessons we've learned from 9/11 contribute to the healing process for victims' families, responders and survivors affected by other tragedies."