Remembering 9/11: a virtual snapshot into the September 11 Memorial & Museum


September 11, 2020 marks the nineteenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States at the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the U.S. Department of Defense at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with the third attack thwarted by hero civilians, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nineteen years later, Americans can still recall the surge of fear and pain that morning, soon replaced with sorrow for the lives lost in the tragedy. Americans remember the acts of heroism and selflessness from first responders and fellow civilians alike, which demonstrated the strength and resolve of our nation. Through trial and test, Americans came together to mourn, persevere and forge on.


(Tribute in Light public art exhibit, New York City)

In the nineteenth year since the attacks, Americans along with their fellow global citizens have yet again been tried through tragedy, mourning lives lost to COVID-19 and working to persevere and forge on. After some debate, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is scheduled to proceed with the annual Tribute in Light ceremony from dusk till dawn on September 11, as well as with the commemoration ceremony for the families of those lost. The museum will reopen to the public after a six-month closure on Saturday, September 12, with modified operations. 

(Hijacked Flight 175 about to hit the South Tower, Septermber 11, 2001. Photograph by Sean Adair, Reuters.)

For those not based in New York City, there are a number of digital resources that make the memorial and museum accessible online. Daily virtual tours of the memorial run from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m., and offer a close look at the World Trade Center pools along with live educational guidance from museum staff. The museum has also uploaded an interactive tour, which takes viewers through the various exhibitions. Below are some of the exhibitions and features of the September 11 Memorial and Museum that honor American heroes and commemorate the sacrifices made nearly two decades ago, never forget.


(Rescue K-9 and First Responder)

K-9 Courage

"K-9 Courage" is a temporary exhibit installed to honor the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks. Photographer Charlotte Dumas was able to track down 15 of the dogs that were documented in the ruins during their service and captured their portraits. In addition to the dogs that aided in rescue and disaster recovery efforts, other dogs provided emotional and physical support and service in the aftermath and trauma recovery for survivors and victims’ families. Find more information and an audio tour here.


(In Memoriam Exhibit at the September 11 Museum, New York City)

In Memoriam

The visual impact of the "In Memoriam" exhibit is enough to leave onlookers breathless. Immediately conveying the enormity of loss, a floor-to-ceiling presentation of 2,983 portrait photographs surrounds visitors as they enter the gallery. The photos include those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks and aftermath, as well at the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The four walls present a true cross-section of humanity, ages 2 and a half to 85, from more than 90 nations, spanning the spectrum of ethnicities, socioeconomic sectors and faith traditions. In addition to the photos, recorded audio remembrances from family members and friends plays and personal items that belonged to the victims are displayed.


(Helicopter at Tora Bora. Photo courtesy of the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA].)

The Hunt for Bin Laden

"Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden" is a virtual exhibit (temporarily closed in-person) that leads visitors through the global hunt for Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. The story begins with the efforts before 2001 to monitor bin Laden’s whereabouts and to determine his plans and culminates in the U.S. Navy SEAL raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It offers details, interviews and over 60 artifacts (some newly declassified) that illustrate the 10-year manhunt known as Operation Neptune Spear. Explore the online exhibition here.


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