How do you grasp an event as enormous as September 11? At the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, you start small: A briefcase, a Blackberry, a victim's sweatshirt, and a hero's nametag. Simple objects that tell personal stories, recounted in the donors' own words. Stories from New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA remind us that the legacy of 9/11 is not fear - it's friendship, courage, and ordinary people pushed by extraordinary circumstances. Their stories deserve to be remembered across decades and generations. By telling them, we triumph over tragedy.

Explore the Objects

From the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

  • Ted Olson: Office Telephone

    U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson received calls on this phone from his wife, Barbara, just before her hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon.

  • Video Camera: Jules Naudet

    This camera, from filmmaker Jules Naudet, filmed the only known footage of the first airplane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center.

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    Briefcase: Lisa Lefler

    Lisa Lefler evacuated her 103rd-floor office in the south tower when the first plane struck. Her briefcase was recovered in the debris days later.

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    Name Tag: David Tarantino

    David Tarantino rescued Pentagon employee Jerry Henson who was trapped in his office after a hijacked plane hit the Pentagon.

  • NYFD Truck Door

    Many fire trucks were crushed when the towers collapsed. This is the truck door salvaged from the remains of Brooklyn's Squad One fire truck.

  • Steel Remains

    This damaged portion of the column assembly from the structure of the south tower was found in the debris after the collapse of the trade towers.

  • Fragment of the Pentagon

    This charred limestone fragment was recovered from the wreckage of the Pentagon after it was struck by a hijacked plane.

  • Airplane Fragments

    Fragments were recovered from one of two hijacked commercial airlines that crashed into the World Trade Center.

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    Flight 93 Logbook

    Flight attendant Lorraine Bay's logbook was recovered from the wreckage of hijacked Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

  • Capt. Dave Thomas: Uniform

    The clothes on his back were burned and torn during his heroic effort to save Jerry Henson, but rescuer, Capt. David Thomas survived the attack on the Pentagon.

  • Stairwell Sign

    The stairs were the only exit for those who escaped the trade towers. This floor marker was recovered from the debris after the buildings' collapse.

  • Jerry Henson: Suit

    Jerry Henson was rescued from the wreckage of the Pentagon by Capt. David Thomas and Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino.

  • Fire Truck Panel

    Collateral damage to Foam Truck 161 conveys the damage inflicted by the hijacked plane that flew into the Pentagon.

Remembrance & Reflection

Visit the National Museum of American History's website to see the collection of objects chosen to be preserved in perpetuity to document this turning point in our history.

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Donating the Pieces

Photojournalist John Harrington talks about the rare Pentagon photographs that he donated to the Smithsonian.

9/11: Stories in Fragments: Sneak Peek

Four airplanes. Nearly three-thousand victims. One unimaginable tragedy. The terrible events of September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten.