Entering the room of the “Never Forget!” exhibition is a powerful experience. The room echoes with the sound of George W. Bush’s address to the nation in the aftermath of the terrorist atrocities of September the 11th.

Immediately your eyes are drawn to a banner adorning the centre of the room. On it are the faces of the 332 firefighters who died in service that day. Each face displays a little glimpse of their story and denotes their name and squadron number. Looking across at the wide range of faces feels overwhelming. A collage of newspaper headlines merge together to create a wall of mourning, shock and outcry clearly displayed across newspapers, tabloid to broadsheet.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Wakefield
Photo courtesy of Matthew Wakefield

Various displays across the room give wider personal context to those who lost their lives; stories of valiant heroes answering the call of duty at a time when their nation needed them most. Personal ornaments like caps and jackets of those who served along with squadron badges successfully add personal touches to accompany the cold faced statistical information about death tolls and event timelines. So too do an array of uniforms add to the visualization of lives lost.

Stories of valiant heroes answering the call of duty at a time when their nation needed them the most

The back of the exhibition room displays a comprehensive timeline of the events as they unfolded on the day. The timeline is useful as a reminder that the attacks were not just limited to New York, the Pentagon also being fatally hit. Additionally, the wide time line gives an indication of why there was such a scramble for information on the day. This is reinforced in the second room in which an old CRT television plays newsreel from the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the feeling of panic and confusion from those interviewed in said news reports is palpable.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Wakefield
Photo courtest of Matthew Wakefield

The “9/11 Never Forget!” exhibition is a strong remider of the mortal sacrifices made by emergency service professionals, not just on September the 11th but throughout history. It forces you to consider and re-evaluate your awareness of the actions of said heroes and thus was a rewarding and recommendable experience.

“9/11 Never Forget! 15th Anniversary Exhibition” ran from the 8th to the 11th of September at the National Emergency Services Museum.


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