The 9/11 Memorial from a Historian’s Point of View

I am the only person on this trip who is a History major, and one of only two who are not either a Communications or Journalism major. This historical perspective that I possess gives this Memorial a new meaning.

9/11 happened back when I had just entered Kindergarten, so while I was very young, it is a day I do not think I will ever forget. I went to school every other day, and it happened to be on the day I had off from school. I walked down the stairs into the family room to witness my mom sobbing on couch while watching the news. At only 5 I could not comprehend why exactly my mom was so upset. I see these images of massive explosions on large skyscrapers, but could not grasp what was wrong, and why it was making my mom cry so hard. She did the best at explaining what was happening to her young child, who barely could read, let alone understand a terrorist attack.

Entering the Memorial gave me instant goosebumps. It begins with people speaking about where exactly they were located when they heard the Twin Towers had been hit. It continues with images and materials gathered from the buildings. The most impressive room, though, is where they showed each separate plane crash, the North Tower, the South Tower, the Pentagon, and the one that crashed into the field in PA. With every image, newscast, and item collected from the wreckage I could just feel my heart drop with every new thing.

From a historical standpoint, physically seeing all of these artifacts made this whole day so much more surreal. I obviously knew what had happened, but there were so many things that I had never seen before. Artifacts make history come alive, and almost make it seem as if you were there when it happened. Not just people of the media, but innocent civilians were able to capture the raw moments of the day, and the many to follow, and the emotions that everyone was feeling. One day when I am teaching US History to students I can tell them about the day, as a person who not only lived it, but explain to them everything I learned and saw in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

History is everywhere, and something that we are always experiencing and creating. 9/11 will always be remembered as one of the worst days in American history, but the way that it brought the entire country together will never be forgotten.

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