The family member coalition groups that formed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks have provided more than support and community; their vocal public statements play a significant role in shaping the landscape at the World Trade Center site. In the immediate aftermath, those who lost loved ones came together to share their grief and work toward healing. As the nation tried to make sense of the events, victims' family members had the firsthand experience to articulate the emotional consequences that reverberated broadly. Their emotional authority evolved into a moral one that still complicates decision making at the site.

Victims' family members constitute an ideal profile of what makes news in the media age: they offer narratives that allow the media to craft emotional, dramatic, and personalized stories. A national audience's ready identification with victims' families gives the latter enormous persuasive power. As plans and designs for the site have changed over the years, the influence of victims' families has become undeniable. Their personal perspectives help determine what stories are told, and what stories are excluded, when history is communicated.

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