Sep
11

Remembrance and Reflection: September 11, 2001

There are certain days that remain seared in one’s memory and mark a generation: September 11, 2001 is one of those days. The Torch revisits an exhibition created in 2011 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the National Museum of American History created a special experience for visitors to view 50 objects from the three sites—New York City; the Pentagon; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania—as well as recent acquisitions related to how American lives have changed since then. The objects were shown on open tables, without cases, and with limited interpretation. Museum staff was available to discuss the objects or answer questions, and visitors left their own stories by posting comment cards.

Here are a look at many of the objects on display and an opportunity to remember and reflect.

View of Ground zero

The view from the World Financial Center of the rubble from the World Trade Center on September 25, 2001. Photograph by Joel Meyerowitz.

damaged beam

This structural bracket beam connected a floor truss to an exterior wall of the World Trade Center. Photo by Hugh Talman.

damaged speed indicator

This United Airlines vertical speed indicator was recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

squeegee handle

This squeegee handle was used by window washer, Jan Demczur to cut through drywall between floors, freeing himself and rescuing five others from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Photo by Richard Strauss.

Uniform, bin, handheld metal detector d floor mat used by the Transportation Security Administration to screen airplane passengers, as part of a heightened security protocol after September 11, 2001. Photo by Richard Strauss.

Uniform, bin, handheld metal detector and floor mat used by the Transportation Security Administration to screen airplane passengers, as part of a heightened security protocol after September 11, 2001. Photo by Richard Strauss.

handwritten card

This postcard was sent by Leslie Whittington to her sister before she boarded flight 77 at Dulles Airport. Flight 77 was hijacked and later hit the Pentagon. Photo by Hugh Talman.

Pentagon map

A map of the Pentagon’s second floor which hung close to where the hijacked plane impacted the building. Photo by Hugh Talman.

fire engine door

This door is from the FDNY Squad One of Brooklyn fire truck that responded to the first tower crash. The truck was crushed when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Photo by Hugh Talman.

phone

Solicitor General Theodore Olson’s phone at his office in the Pentagon. He received two phone calls from his wife aboard flight 77 as hijackers flew the plane towards the Pentagon. Photo by Richard Strauss.

video camera

This video camera was used by Jules Naudet to capture the only known footage of the first plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Photo by Hugh Talman.

melted coins

Coins recovered from damaged offices in the Pentagon. Photo by Richard Strauss.

damaged briefcase

Left behind by Lisa Lefler, this briefcase was found amid the debris at the World Trade Center and returned to her. Photo by Hugh Talman.

damaged notebook

Flight attendant Lorraine Bay carefully recorded every flight she worked in this log book, found near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

Tools used by iron worker, James Connor to remove debris at the World Trade Center between September 2001 and January 2002. Photo by Hugh Talman.

Tools used by iron worker, James Connor to remove debris at the World Trade Center between September 2001 and January 2002. Photo by Hugh Talman.

damaged window shade

A window shade recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

fuselage fragment

A fuselage fragment recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

call button

A call button recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

metal fragment

A metal fragment recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

metal fragment

A metal fragment recovered near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Richard Strauss.

uniform shirt

The uniform worn by officer Isaac Ho’opi’i, Pentagon police officer and dog handler, as he rescued people at the Pentagon. Photo by Richard Strauss.

firefighter doll

Doll recovered from the debris at the Staten Island recovery site at Fresh Kills. Photo by Richard Strauss.

dog collar with badge

The collar was worn by Vito, a bomb-smelling dog from the Defense Protective Police at the Pentagon. Photo by Richard Strauss.

Cell phone

Cell phone used by New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani on September 11, 2001. Photo by Richard Strauss.

clock

This clock was hanging on the wall of a Pentagon helipad when the impact of the crash knocked it to the floor, freezing it in time. Photo by Richard Strauss.

damaged steel beam

A steel beam recovered from the wreckage at the World Trade Center. (On view in the “Price of Freedom: American at War” exhibition.) Photo by Hugh Talman.

calculator

A calculator recovered from an office in the Pentagon. Photo by Richard Strauss.

UPDATE, Sept. 12, 2011: More than 12,500 people visited this small display from Sept. 2 through Sept. 11. Waiting patiently in line for as long as an hour, visitors were respectful of the objects, appreciating the opportunity to ask questions of staff and leave comments. Some of the 1,400 comment cards can be seen at the American History Museum’s Flickr site.

 

 

Visitors to 9/11 Reflections

Visitors waited in long lines to view an exhibition at the American History Museum marking the tenth anniversary of September 11.

People at table displaying artifacts

Visitor talks with curator at an exhibition at the American History Museum on the tenth anniversary of September 11.


Posted: 11 September 2017
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.

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