Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled a memorial to the victims of 9/11 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park today.
Crowds turned out in their hundreds for the reveal of a striking steel artwork made from the 9/11 wreckage.
Watch: Mayor Boris Johnson speaks exclusively to the Hackney Post:
The event was attended by other notable supporters including United States ambassador to the United Kingdom Matthew Barzun, Admiral Lord West and historian Simon Schama.
The 28ft-tall, 4-ton artwork entitled ‘Since 9/11’, was gifted to the UK by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010 on the condition that is be permanently sited in a prominent London location.
“A beautiful, international, peaceful location”
New York artist Miya Ando was commissioned by educational charity Since 9/11 to create the piece out of steel recovered from Ground Zero.
“I have tremendous gratitude to Boris Johnson and the city of London,” she said. “I think this is a beautiful, international, peaceful location, and I think it’s quite appropriate for a sculpture of this nature to reside here.”
In his speech, charity founder and chairman Peter Rosengard said: “It’s been a remarkable five-year journey to honour our promise to New York. Along the way, we’ve created the acclaimed 9/11 Education Programme to teach students about the events, causes and consequences of 9/11, and to encourage toleration, respect and harmony between young people of all faiths, religions and races.
“Today in the Olympic Park, we honour the past and look to a better future for all our children.”
Introducing 14-year-old William Harmer, who composed a special piece of music for the unveiling, Mr Rosengard said: “Everyone of you remembers exactly where you were on that day. But for William Harmer and anyone under 14, they weren’t born. These young people have only grown up in a since 9/11 world.”
The charity’s education programme was created to inform schoolchildren between the ages of 13 and 16 about the issues of terrorism and violence.
In his speech, Mr Rosengard read messages of support from Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, before introducing his fellow speakers.
“Where the world came together”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson told Hackney Post: “The Olympic Park was where the world came together in 2012. It spoke to me of understanding, of fellowship and support, and that’s why I thought it was a great site.
“It was just a shame that we couldn’t get any of the other boroughs to go for it. But I just think that they felt it was too challenging an artwork. But it’s great here now.”
Amongst the crowd were local families who lost relatives in the 9/11 atrocities.
Patricia Bingley told Hackney Post of the pain of losing her son Kevin in the attacks: “I’ll never get over it. But I’m alive when I talk about Kevin. He was an American citizen and he loved New York. He had a wonderful life, even though he was only 43 when I lost him.
“The Olympic Park is such a central part of our country and I’m glad that it’s where the piece of artwork has been erected. It’s important that it should be somewhere where everybody comes to visit.”
Additional reporting and video by Louis Doré.