Third week of classes away from NMAH

I was in my in my 15th year working at the National Museum of American History. With a leave of absence from NMAH, I was in grad school in Cooperstown, NY. It was Tuesday and our class had just attended the monthly staff meeting of the New York State Historical Association.

We walked back to the classroom and reviewing a museum education video was started by our instructor. Then another faculty member stepped in and said that a plane had struck the Twin Towers and the news was on. We switched to ABC news and for the rest of the day we watched Peter Jennings as everything unfold before us.

The Secretary emailed everyone to say that the Smithsonian would open to the public on time and it was “business as usual.” Our director shortly after issued an email, dismissed everyone, and said that the museum would not open.

The Secretary then reversed his previous email.

All schools and colleges in New York closed for the rest of the week and a classmate was stuck in Ohio celebrating her birthday with her family - no flights. It took two days to reach my family in the DC suburbs of Maryland by phone.

The patriotic town-folks of Cooperstown immediately began to rally ‘round their fellow New Yorkers. They set out their US flags on every porch and balcony creating a giant wave of red, white, and blue throughout the town.

Then on Saturday evening, the community and many more from the local villages and farms arrived on the courthouse grounds for a candlelight vigil.

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