Over the years, the 9/11 Tribute Center has been dedicated to collecting “The stories of 9/11, told by those who were there.” At the heart of the 9/11 Tribute Center are the hundreds of oral histories that we have recorded and collected. This fall, we announce a new initiative of a series of compelling, thematic “exhibits” that bring the personal stories of 9/11 into every home.
Tribute staff curated these first-person accounts into a series of interactive video web exhibits. The first of these new online exhibits, launched for the 12th anniversary “The National Guard: Stories of September 11th told by those who were there.” This interactive web exhibit, (www.tributewtc.org) documents the National Guard’s response on September 11th. Viewers, educators and students across the country can experience individual video stories from five National Guard soldiers who responded. Major General Taluto, who commanded the National Guard troops brought into New York City, is featured in the introductory overview video. On 9/11, National Guardsmen “citizen soldiers” left their jobs and responded. By the afternoon of 9/11, thousands of troops were in position throughout the city. This online exhibit reflects the scope of service of America’s National Guard. Viewers will see and hear stories from soldiers who searched through the smoldering debris field for survivors, a soldier who secured the perimeter of the site, a soldier who conducted biological testing of the area, soldiers who protected our nuclear power plants, bridges and roads, and soldiers who went on to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The complexity of each task is shared, from recovery in lower Manhattan to long-term security for the nation and ultimately international service. Each person shares the personal impact that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has had on their lives.
The second online exhibit, which will launch in mid-September, will feature several Tribute volunteers. The exhibit begins with sharing four unique stories, as told on Tribute Center tours. The exhibit then explores the profound effect that sharing these personal stories has, both on the visitor as well as on the volunteer that is sharing their experience. Each volunteer represents a different constituent group and perspective from a family member, survivor, first responder and lower Manhattan resident. Their reflections on the meaning of sharing their stories at the 9/11 Memorial and the value of being an active volunteer of the 9/11 community at the Tribute Center are examined. Additionally, excerpts from a formal, academic study, (conducted by a former Tribute volunteer) is highlighted, showing how the outcomes of this program parallels much of the latest research on post traumatic growth, detailing that as volunteers share and learn, they are also growing and healing; as they are sharing their stories, they are also benefiting from volunteering.