[Embracing the Memory: Library 
of Congress Professional Association]


Barbara Conaty

On September 11, 2001, the staff of the Library of Congress began a normal day on Capitol Hill. By the time many of us were ready for our first coffee break, the disastrous news was sweeping through the three buildings. Anyone who could get to a phone, PC, radio, or TV rushed to get more details of the disasters. Many people crowded into the LC Credit Union where the TV is always tuned to a news station. Others flocked to the sixth-floor cafeteria where the view toward Arlington is crystal clear.

The dense cloud of smoke rising from the Pentagon confirmed the terrible news. The seat of the American government was under deadly attack. Each person had to decide quickly what to do. How were we to see to our personal safety and the safety of our families? Important priorities fell into place as we faced shut down Metro stations, jammed streets, and collapsed communications. The echoes of those decisions reverberated in the Library for months as we struggled to absorb the consequences of that appalling morning. With sorrow, we learned that among our co-workers were several staff members who lost loved ones at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. This work is dedicated to the memory of their grievous loss.

As September 11, 2002 approached, the Library of Congress Professional Association (LCPA) proposed that the one-year anniversary should be marked in a way that would mirror the significance of the events we experienced. The publication of an anthology with a home on the LCPA web site was the result of the deliberations. The anthology would also be donated to the 9-11 archive maintained at the Library of Congress web site. The invitation was issued to LCPA members, LC staff, and to the broader community tied to the Library of Congress.

The works that are part of Embracing the Memory are the result of that initiative. Our contributors include not only LC staff members but also relatives of a staffer and a onetime employee. The publication date, January 14, 2003, is significant because it is the day of the LCPA Thank You Luncheon, an annual event showing gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers who make LCPA a strong and dynamic organization.

We are grateful to our contributors for their generosity in sharing their work. The image of the clematis flower has been modified from an original photograph taken by Michelle Lemons and supplied by the PhotoImpact Users Photo Gallery. The enthusiasm and aid of the Project Committee is deeply appreciated. Our combined efforts have produced for our readers one more step toward understanding the profound effects which began on September 11, 2001.

Go to the title page.
Go to the first piece in the anthology.