By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Silver medals commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 are already a hot item, just hours after going on sale Monday afternoon.
In the first two hours after the federal government put the medals online on Monday, collectors snapped up more than 12,000 of them, raising over $120,000 for the 9/11 memorial and museum.
"It will honor the memories of those who died [on 9/11] and will honor those who risked their lives," said US Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who co-sponsored the legislation creating the medal. "No matter the passage of time, we will never forget."
One side of the medal shows a young Lady Liberty holding up a lamp, with twin beams of light behind her and the text "Always Remember 2001-2001."
The reverse side shows an eagle against a backdrop of flowing water representing peace and healing, above the words "Honor" and "Hope."
The federal government plans to mint up to 2 million of the collectible medals at West Point and in Philadelphia between now and the end of 2012. The medals cost $56.95 now and will go up to $66.95 on Aug. 18.
For each medal purchased, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will receive $10.
Joe Daniels, the memorial foundation's president, said the medal sales would boost the memorial's fundraising and might help defray an admission charge to the 9/11 museum when it opens at the World Trade Center site in 2012.
"Being able to raise $20 million through the sale of medals is a big help," Daniels said.
Still, he added that it will cost $50 million to $60 million per year to maintain the 9/11 memorial and museum, so he hopes the federal government will also provide regular financial support.
Nadler said he hopes to pass legislation soon doing just that.
The commemorative medals are available online or at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site on Vesey Street.