From a Pentagon rescuer’s uniform to a Flight 93 crew log, these objects commemorate the 20th anniversary of a national tragedy
By Meilan Solly, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Sept. 8, 2021, 8:43 a.m.
Following the tragedies that took place on September 11, 2001, curators at the Smithsonian Institution recognized the urgency of documenting this unprecedented moment in American history.
After Congress designated the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as the official repository for all related objects, photographs and documents, staff focused their attention on three areas: the attacks themselves, first responders and recovery efforts.
As time passed, curators expanded their purview to include the nation’s response to the tragedy, recording 9/11’s reverberations across the country. “This effectively put a net over the story, covering what happened on that day, then plus one month, plus one year,” says Cedric Yeh, curator of the museum’s National September 11 Collection.
“But [this net] had a lot of holes. I don’t mean holes in the curators’ work, but [rather], there were areas not covered because it was impossible to cover the entirety of the story.”