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Memories Collected at Ground Zero

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Peter Fedynsky

The commemoration of the September 11 attacks of 2001 will include a memorial plaza and museum, which is currently under construction at Ground Zero. There is also an ongoing effort to document the memories people have of that day and the decade that followed. A key exhibit for the 9/11 museum has been lowered into place.


A fire truck whose 11-member team was killed responding to the World Trade Center attacks was lowered during a ceremony Wednesday into an exhibition space at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum under construction at Ground Zero. The truck is from the New York City Fire Department’s Ladder Company Three. Firefighters aboard that truck raced to the Twin Towers to help people escape, but themselves perished when the buildings collapsed. The cab of the vehicle, which weighs more than 27,000 kilograms, was destroyed.

People in lower Manhattan are being offered the chance to write down and share their memories of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
People in lower Manhattan are being offered the chance to write down and share their memories of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, the Tribute World Trade Center, which collects personal 9/11 histories, has provided pen and paper around the city to allow people to write or draw recollections associated with the attacks.  Meriam Lobel, curator for the Center, says many New Yorkers had been reluctant to share their 9/11 memories.

“We’re giving people who live and work in Lower Manhattan, and of course tourists if they happen to be walking by, an opportunity to go back to those memories of 9/11 itself, and think about which memories they might be interested in preserving," she said.

These include memories of lost loved ones, lost colleagues, and of strangers who helped survivors that day. People are also sharing how the city and people’s lives have changed in the past decade.

One person simply wrote that he saw the Twin Towers from his living room throughout his school years until his senior year in high school. Then, he writes, they disappeared. A visitor from Pakistan expressed sorrow on behalf of all Pakistanis for what happened on 9/11.  

Retired computer security consultant James O’Shea wrote a lengthy essay recalling the horror he felt watching both planes strike the towers from another city skyscraper. “My thoughts of how horrific this whole thing was, and how it changed all of our lives," he said. "And that we initially felt hit upon, unnecessarily so, that’s why we all shouted out, ‘we will never forget.’”

The recollections will be assembled into a work of art to be displayed at the Gardens of Remembrance in Battery Park near Ground Zero. The 9/11 memorial plaza opens to the public on September 12. The museum is expected to open next year.

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