New Website Captures 9/11 Memories

National Park Service News Release

August 4, 2002 | David Barna (NPS), 202-208-6843 | Jen Larson (NPF), 202-238-4187

The National Park Service (NPS) launched a website today that features an “on-line” exhibit. Titled 9/11/01 The Meaning Of National Parks in Times of Crises, the site provides access to personal accounts of park visitors and employees both on and following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The site–whose address is www.nps.gov/remembrance–also invites its virtual visitors to comment on their current reflections about the value of National Parks in their lives today.

The site features some 20 interviews from an NPS oral history project that recorded the experiences and perspectives of employees who responded to the attacks and their aftermath at 12 sites in New York, Washington and around the country. In announcing the new website, NPS director Fran Mainella stated, “The National Park Service and our partners, the National Park Foundation and Eastern National want everyone to explore the memories of our workers and visitors — and add personal comments and reactions.”

“These parks and their people, the rangers, gardeners, police, secretaries, and more, will always carry the memory of September 11. Our visitors, at parks both near and far have shared their ideas of why and how they value the parks and the people who serve them. The message of September 11 is not only of loss. September 11 speaks of courage, determination and perseverance,” she said.

The design and creation of the on-line exhibit is made possible through a grant from The National Park Foundation (NPF) to the Recovery and Remembrance Fund (Fund). “As we all continue to deal with our grief from the tragedy of September 11 in different ways, it is helpful to remember that National Parks can serve as special places for solitude, reflection and comfort,” said Jim Maddy, president of the National Park Foundation. “”Now more than ever, National Parks have a special role to play in our lives, and connecting Americans to these special places through this web site is a role the National Park Foundation is pleased to play.”

In addition to the web site, the Fund has underwritten the collection of the website’s featured material, including the oral history project. It is managed by Eastern National, a nonprofit educational organization serving America’s national parks and other public trusts. “Soon after 9/11, it was apparent that NPS staff and visitors had been deeply affected by what happened,” said Eastern National President Chesley Moroz. “We established the Recovery and Remembrance Fund to document the oral histories of the park employees who witnessed and have supported the 9-11-01 recovery efforts and to create educational programs about the September 11th events and the involvement of national parks. Thanks to the generosity of the National Park Foundation and a number of organizations and individuals, we are pleased that the Fund was able to underwrite this important project,” she said.

Featured parks include Federal Hall National Memorial, which on 9/11/01 served as a safe haven for some 250 people fleeing from the falling debris and choking dust caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center. Others are: The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Gateway in New York City; parks of metropolitan Washington, D.C.; Western Pennsylvania area parks; Fort McHenry (MD); Independence (PA); Shenandoah (VA); Mount Rainier (WA); Manzanar (CA); Yosemite (CA); and Golden Gate (CA).

Visitors to the website experience the ways these national park areas and their staffs and visitors responded to the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. The project also documents visitors talking about their sense of a heightened value of parks since the attacks. The website links to a number of related sites including the Official Flight 93 Website, The September 11 Digital Archive, and Museums Celebrate America’s Freedoms.

The site uses the impact of the medium to present sound, video, and static displays. s2n Media of New York, which has done website development for a wide range of commercial and government clients, including the Smithsonian and the National Science Foundation, was contracted to create the site. The design team has obtained permission to incorporate post 9-11 news footage of parks and visitors from disparate places throughout the National Park System.

The NPS considers the website a work in progress and hopes that visitors will be inspired to share their stories and comments in the Remembrance section of the site. The goal is to allow people from around the United States and the world to contribute to the project and to incorporate their contributions into future exhibits and publications.

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