Last year I had written about an opportunity to go behind the scenes to see some of the Smithsonian’s 9/11 collection. Link here. Our tour guide, who was a curator but did not collect for this particular event, briefly touched on the mental and emotional impact experienced by those brave souls who did curate the sites, working among the rescue workers in an attempt to make sense of the event and find a way for future historians to tell the story, while no one yet understood what exactly that story was.
We always remember the first responders, and rightly so, from the firefighters to the National Guard to the chaplain who died giving last rites to victims. As an historian and someone whose livelihood exists behind the scenes, I don’t want to forget the people who operated in realms not often considered, from the museum curator who couldn’t do her job to a trucker whose interview I heard on the radio last week. The trucker’s cargo was empty body bags, and he had to drive to New York to deliver them. Yikes.
It’s hard to express this year’s feelings on today. Searching for pictures to use made me realize what an international event it was, even before the War on Terror began. It has become both more global and more individualized as I look at the pictures and see both large groups involved, whose individual members all have a story. The trick is not forgetting either the group or the person as this event has been seminal on both an individual and a global level.