Flowers, American flags, photographs and sentimental keepsakes are just some of the tributes left at the 9/11 Memorial by visitors every day. These tributes are placed on the memorial by 9/11 family members and friends, often by a particular name inscribed on the memorial, or by visitors from around the world offering personal gestures of remembrance.
A small selection of these tribute items are kept as part of the permanent collection of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Every year on Memorial Day, Americans remember the men and women who died while serving in the U. S. armed forces, including those who died in the war on terror, following the events of Sept. 11. The medals pictured above are the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, respectively.
Placed on the memorial for the New York City Police Department on Sept. 11, 2012, these medals were likely left by a Navy serviceman, which is indicated by the U.S. Navy fouled anchor lapel pins attached to the medal ribbons, and the United States Surface Warfare pin (far right). Both of the medals are solely awarded to service members who were killed or wounded in combat.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the awards were developed in consideration of new military roles in a post-Sept. 11 environment to provide flexible and tangible “recognition for those serving in the current war against terrorism, a war that spans the globe and includes many diverse campaigns.”
With tributes like these medals, we can observe the wider importance of the 9/11 Memorial as not only a place of remembrance for the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of 2001, but also a place for us to remember the sacrifices our service men and women who continue to help keep our country safe.
By Stephanie Schmeling, Collections Cataloguer for the 9/11 Memorial Museum