President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are helping dedicate the new National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York today.

The memorial includes artifacts from that fateful day on Sept. 11, 2001.

What will always strike me about that day is the direct contrast between the picture perfect late summer day, and the horror unfolding in front of our eyes on television.

Like the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the 9/11 Museum will not be an easy one to visit. The artifacts will include twisted columns of steel and shattered eyeglasses left behind from the attack on the World Trade Center that killed more than two-thousand people. There's also a fire engine that was heavily damaged by the collapse of the towers.

The project was marked by construction problems, financial squabbles and disputes over the appropriate way to honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, Washington and the Pennsylvania countryside. But whatever the challenges in conceiving it, museum president Joe Daniels says “you won’t walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way. And for a museum, if we can achieve that objective, we’ve done our job.”

The museum has been eight years in the making. It took about 700-million dollars to build, mostly from private donations. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg remarked that the site is a place where people can go to understand 9-11 through the lives of those who died and those who rushed to the scene to help. Today's events begin at 10am - the memorial and museum facility opens to the general public next week.

This day is personal to me, as my cousin, George Howard, a New York Port Authority Officer, was killed when the South Tower collapsed.