This feature gallery highlights some of the hundreds of objects contributed to the Museum's collection by responders on the frontlines of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attack sites in the aftermath of 9/11. Their stories reflect the diversity of skills, training, and commitment to service that fueled this collective effort.
Approximately 2,000 police officers and nearly 1,000 firefighters responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th. More than 100 city, private, and volunteer ambulance teams were dispatched to the scene within the first hour. Personnel from other branches of local, state, and federal government reinforced their numbers. In all, they formed the largest emergency mobilization in New York City history. At the Pentagon, the building’s internal security force joined with emergency response agencies from the National Capital Region to form a unified command.
Individuals without agency affiliation or previous crisis training also stepped up to support these rescue efforts. At Ground Zero, construction workers, medical personnel, disaster relief volunteers, members of the clergy and others joined first responders to move debris, extinguish fires, treat the injured, look for survivors, feed and comfort the searchers, and recover victims’ remains.
The selflessness of these frontline responders forged a deep connection between 9/11 and public service. Immediately following the attacks and continuing long after, many people channeled their energies into volunteering with organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, enlisting in the military, founding charities, contributing to established philanthropic causes, and otherwise helping people in need.