Atlanta History Center remembers 9/11 through a special exhibition

“It will be an emotional experience and people will have a great take-away from it.”

Michael Rose tells WSB Radio about Responding Heroes: Remembering September 11, 2001. The exhibition opened September 9 and runs through October 17 at the Atlanta History Center. Rose is Executive vice president for Collections and Exhibitions at the AHC.

“We were sitting here talking about planning for this (early 2021), and everybody in the room had a story about where they were, what they were doing, and the impact of that. Just the kind of the idea of the realization, suddenly that, this is it. My life has changed…the world has changed.”

The exhibition is curated by the National EMS Museum for this special showing in Atlanta.

Some of what visitors can see: The Women of 9/11 series. “They are 16-by-20 oil on canvas paintings that are portraits of women who were first responders on that day,” says Rose. Another series of lithographs comes from a female first responder on that day who used her art “as trauma therapy.”

Several personal first responder items from the scene of the World Trade Center towers that day. Boots, T-shirts, a hard hat. Rose says one of those a “regular T-shirt that one of the first responders had on. He wrote on it with his Sharpie to let people know he was a first responder, because it was not actually part of a uniform.”

Also, an item with two words written on it that which illustrates the urgency of that day. “A gentleman who was flying an AWACS radar plane on that day. We have his flight log…his entry in his flight book was simply ‘national emergency’.

Then, there’s a piece of one of the towers. “It’s a small piece, but what we’re trying to do is trying to create sort of a memorial memory space for people just to sit and reflect,” says Rose. It’s this that is most impactful to him. “It’s not large, but something like that doesn’t have to be. It’s a sacred artifact, and we hope that people understand the importance of something that might be that small but symbolizes something so much larger.”

The History Center makes the exhibit interactive via a chain-link fence, where visitors have “the opportunity to write notes, memorials or comments, and clip to that just like they would have done at Ground Zero on the days following.”

Rose says just as important as the artifacts are the History Center’s contributions via its Veterans Oral History collection. “The stories that they tell and the emotional impact that it had on them that day, that carries through those oral histories. And again, makes that history very relevant I think to us today to hear the people who lived it, and telling those stories again.”

The exhibition runs to October 17.

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