9/11 Attacks Cross from Sacred to Historic

New York State Museum Director Mark Schaming, the point person in assembling the world’s largest collection of artifacts recovered from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, has seen a curatorial tipping point this year.

Hours of tearful oral histories recorded with widows of firefighters and family members of victims who perished in the collapse of the Twin Towers ended years ago and are now filed away. They are silent digital artifacts that tell unspeakably sad stories of lives ended far too soon.

The last personal effects recovered in the rubble — an employee badge, a credit card, a set of car keys — were turned over a few years ago to the State Museum from relatives of victims. The long, anguished stream of artifacts that poured into the State Museum’s storehouse of grief has abated.

“We have been guessing when that threshold would be crossed from the sacred to the historic,” Schaming said. “It feels like that time is here.”

On Wednesday, the 12th anniversary, public memorial events in the Capital Region had dwindled to a precious few: a Freedom Walk at The Crossings in Colonie, a brief service at Veterans Park in Brunswick, a Patriot Day ceremony and lunch at the American Legion post in East Greenbush.

Of course, the passage of 12 years does not ease the ache of loss for family members of a dozen victims with Capital Region ties. They were among nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville (PA).

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