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Commemorate 9/11 With the Kids

There is no better way to pay tribute to all the people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as to those who died trying to save them, than by taking the family to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York.

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Tip: Before your visit, prepare the kids by downloading the free family-friendly tips Talking to your Children About 9/11 and the Museum Guide for Visitors with Children Ages 8-11.

(MORE: Find kid-friendly hotels to stay in New York City.)

The 9/11 Memorial

The beautiful and poignant 9/11 Memorial was built to honor the memory of the almost 3,000 people who perished in the suicide terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon in Washington DC, which resulted in the greatest numbers of people killed in a single day on American soil, as well as the memory of six people killed in a bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993.

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It features the largest man-made waterfalls in the US that fill twin acre-sized reflecting pools built into Ground Zero where the original twin towers stood and collapsed. Bronze panels engraved with the names of the victims surround the pools.

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If it is summer and the kids want to play or wade in the pools, explain to them that they are for memorial reasons only, but you will take them afterwards for water play at the nearby West Thames Playground in Battery Park or to the spray water showers in the Pearl Street Playground at the South Street Seaport.

The 9/11 Memorial Plaza

More than 400 trees, mainly swamp white oaks, make the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, an eco-friendly site that provide a green roof over the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Be sure to show the kids the Survivor Tree, a little pear tree that miraculously survived the terrible destruction at Ground Zero and after some rehabilitation was re-planted here. You can draw a parallel for the kids by pointing out that many people also miraculously survived.

Tip: Guided tours for visiting the Memorial are available. (At the intersection Liberty Street/Greenwich Street, intersection Liberty Street/West Street, intersection West Street/Fulton Street; 212-266-5211 Hours: 7:30am – 9pm).

The National September 11 Memorial Museum

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The very moving National September 11 Memorial Museum tells the story of 9/11 and its victims, and emphasizes the value of human life – a 9/11 commemoration site that everybody, young and old, should experience at least once in their lives. In it are exhibits displaying the artifacts connected to that grim day in history, including remnants of structural columns from the twin towers, portraits of the fallen, debris and pieces found after the towers fell, and tributes made by families and friends of the victims.

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In order to reach the exhibits you go down a ramp to what was the original foundation level of the World Trade Center. Be sure to show the kids the remnant of the Survivors’ Stairs that provided an escape from the inferno for hundreds of people.

All visitors to the Museum are required to pass through mandatory security. This can mean waiting a long time in line if there are many people visiting the Museum and this may not be easy for small kids. A possible solution is for one of you to take the older kids in to the museum while the other one remains with the smaller ones on the Plaza and then switch roles! Large strollers are not allowed in the Museum so bring only a small travel one or a baby carrier. Visitors are expected to remain respectfully quiet inside the museum and cell phones must be shut off. If the kids get hungry or thirsty go to the Café area of the Museum on 2nd floor inside the Museum Pavilion. TheHistorical Exhibition may not be suitable for kids under age 10. Tickets at adults $24; seniors 65+, veteran and US college students $18; Youth 7-17 $15; kids 5 and under Free. Tuesday evenings are free from 5 pm to closing (entrance must be before 7 pm). Tickets can be ordered three months in advance.

Tip 1: The Museum will be closed on September 11 so visit a day before.

Tip 2: The members of the staff reserve the right to close the museum for bad weather or any other reason without advance notice, so phone before setting out.

(MORE: Make the most of your visit. Find more kid-friendly things to do in New York City.)

Gardens of Remembrance

After visiting the 9/11 Memorial, you may want to take the kids to play at the nearby kid-friendly beautifulGardens of Remembrance at the Battery Park Conservancy, built and designed to remember those who were killed on 9/11, cherish the survivors, and give hope to all garden visitors.

Josephine Levin contributed this to MiniTime.

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