A squeegee handle used to save the life of a World Trade Center window washer and five others; a Pentagon name tag for LCDR David Tarantino, a Navy physician who was in his Pentagon office when the hijacked plane hit and went to the damaged section of the building and began searching for injured people; a flight attendant’s log book from United Airlines Flight 93; and personal items, including a wedding ring, a nametag and a postcard sent before boarding American Airlines Flight 77, are among the 27 artifacts the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will loan to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. That museum, with a mission to pay tribute to those directly affected by the tragedy and to educate new generations about that day, opens May 21.
The loan consists of 14 items from the World Trade Center, eight from the Pentagon and five from Shanksville, Pa. Other objects include airplane fragments, floor indicators and a stairwell camera from one of the twin towers. These objects bear material witness to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and serve as a reminder not only of the personal tragedies and loss but of the nation’s.
“As the official repository of the country’s Sept. 11 collections, it is our obligation to share these objects and their compelling stories with the world, so that this day and the impact on American lives and our society are always remembered,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “This ongoing loan to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will allow these artifacts to tell the story in ways that words cannot.”
In 2002, Congress designated the National Museum of American History as the official repository for Sept. 11 materials so that objects, photographs and documents would be preserved permanently in the museum’s collections to help future generations of historians and visitors comprehend the horrific events, their roots and their long-term consequences. The museum’s Sept. 11 collection may be viewed here, and several objects, including a section of WTC steel from the 70th floor of the South Tower, are on view in the museum’s “Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibition.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.