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The September 11 Digital Archive

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Smithsonian “September 11:
Bearing Witness to History”

     Story of September 11
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Contributed by: Stephen R. Dill
Contributor's location on 9/11:
Contributed on: 27 June 2002

How did you witness history on September 11th?

This from my personal journal: The world has changed dramatically since my last entry! The week following seemed normal until that Tuesday, when entering the Corporate Marketing open space and seeing people huddled around a small radio (or TV) I had the first inkling that something was amiss. Within an hour we were heading back out of the building in a forced evacuation. I had called [my wife] to tell her of the first two planes crashing into the World Trade Center, as I was talking to her the news of the plane crashing into the Pentagon was broadcast over the cubicles. We talked for a minute of what this meant to her and her charges; she determined that life would go on for the 3- and 4-year olds in the Cooperative and Day Nursery School. It was a surreal day full of images that play back often, almost without provocation: being the last to leave the cavernous office - shutting down the PCs and lights that were left on as if in a hasty escape; receiving an email from my brother in NJ just as I was shutting down "...I know the planes came from Boston - are you alright up there?"; the calm with which everyone walked in the streets of the city to the subway and the trains to return home (still in shock, no doubt); the construction worker in the subway who told me that the entire Big Dig had been shut down and cleared out in 20 minutes; coming home and parking in front of the TV before the kids got home, watching the footage of the second planeís impact as the networks started to collect it - first some shaky home videos, progressing to the chilling view up over a manís shoulder of the huge plane slowly appearing from the left and crossing the remaining space to sheer into the second tower, which completely absorbs it; the discussion around the dinner table as to whether or not the Middle School teachers should or should not have told the students what was happening; the realization upon reading the Boston Globe the next day that Richard Ross, a man I had considered going into business with at one time, was on American 11 and had died in the tragedy.

What do you think should be remembered about September 11th?

The warmth and humanity we all suddenly found within ourselves. Our willingness to consider the needs of others. The rapid proliferation of flags in car windows, on porches, corporate facades and painted on children's faces. The surge of billboards proclaiming "God Bless America!" and the singing of patriotic songs at baseball games.

Did you fly an American flag after the events of September 11th?

Yes! I hung my father's military casket flag across the front porch of my house. No - as a veteran and an Eagle Scout I have always had a great deal of respect for what the flag stands for and where it has gone in the interest of peace and freedom. I have been heartened to see so many others who were less cognizant of its importance in world affairs and history become even the least bit more aware, some even repsectful, of our flag.

Cite as: Stephen R. Dill, Smithsonian Story #37, The September 11 Digital Archive, 27 June 2002, <>.
Archival Information: 383 words, 2091 characters

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