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Sept. 11 museum opens to relatives and survivors

A pair of World Trade Center tridents, that once formed part of the exterior structural support of the east facade of the building, are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tears in her eyes, firefighter widow Maureen Fanning emerged Thursday from the new Sept. 11 museum deep beneath ground zero, unable to bring herself to look at all of it.

"I just think it would be a little too overwhelming today," she said, unsure when she would return. "It's a lot to digest, to absorb. Not anytime soon."

Victims' friends and relatives, rescue workers and survivors of the terrorist attack descended into the subterranean space and revisited the tragedy as the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum was dedicated by President Barack Obama as a symbol that says of America: "Nothing can ever break us."

The museum's artifacts range from the monumental, like two of the huge fork-shaped columns from the World Trade Center's facade, to the intimate: a wedding ring, a victim's voice mail message.

Some relatives found the exhibits both upsetting and inspiring.

Patricia Smith's visit came down to one small object: the New York Police Department shield her mother, Moira, was wearing 12

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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