by Alexandra Howard, CPLA Social Media Director
I was six years old when the planes struck the World Trade Center, and I remember it vividly. It was the first time I saw my parents truly petrified, the first time I had seen anyone completely glued to a television screen. I witnessed terror that day.
The 9/11 exhibit at the Newseum in Washington DC manages to capture the magnitude of the horrors of September 11th, 2001. Upon entering the exhibit you are immediately faced with a large piece of one of the Towers. This oddly shaped chunk of metal is one of the only scraps left from the wreckage. It encapsulates the obliteration that two planes caused and makes the room feel completely full and utterly empty all at once. Behind the piece of metal are newspaper headlines of the days following 9/11, offering images of flame and ash and sheer panic. The headlines are in countless languages, but they all seem to say the same thing: How could this possibly be happening?
Underneath the wall of newspapers, there is an entrance to a small screening room that plays a documentary about the people who reported live on 9/11. They were swallowed by the chaos of New York City when they tried to do their jobs and found themselves at the center of one of the United States’ darkest days. The reporters and cameramen and women who spoke throughout the film recalled the unmitigated confusion of reporting 9/11. On the one hand, it was their job to document the events and to tell the public what was happening. On the other, they were New Yorkers and they too were watching a piece of their city tumble from the sky; as the towers were engulfed in flames, so too were the news crews taken over by emotion. The film depicted countless clips of the reporters and camera crews abandoning professionalism and crying with their fellow New Yorkers.
While watching this film, I was flooded with emotions and memories of that day. I found myself entranced by the film and ultimately found it quite difficult to walk out of that room. The Newseum impeccably exhibits the anxiety and panic that flooded New York on 9/11, while paying homage to those who lost their lives and to a city that will never be the same again.