The attacks on September 11, 2001 were one of the most watched and documented tragedies in history. The 9/11 Memorial Museum collection contains personal items and artifacts, accompanied by accounts of the day and stories of heroism, courage, survival and loss. Here are some of the stories that will be shared with visitors and preserved in the collection to honor the lives of the nearly 3,000 victims of the September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 terrorist attacks.
Stories of Loss
FDNY Chief of Department Peter Ganci
On the morning of 9/11, New York City Fire Department Chief of Department Peter Ganci, then a 33-year veteran, arrived at the World Trade Center site less than 10 minutes after the North Tower was struck. He barely escaped when the South Tower collapsed minutes later, but he returned to the North Tower disaster scene and ordered the evacuation of all firefighters inside, using his radio. He also instructed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the fire commissioner, and others to clear the area. Ganci stood his ground, refusing to leave his men and the desperate rescue effort still underway to lead civilians out of the North Tower. He died when the building fell at 10:28 a.m. Ganci was the highest ranking uniformed fire officer killed on 9/11.
Marisa DiNardo's Story
On 9/11, Ester DiNardo lost her daughter, Marisa. Ester remembers how on her last night, Marisa brought her to Windows on the World on top of the WTC to celebrate her birthday. Marisa's recovered purse and wallet have been donated to the Memorial Museum.
Sisters Eileen and Patricia Fagan
As they did every workday, sisters Eileen and Patricia Fagan took the bus together to commute from New Jersey to lower Manhattan on 9/11. Eileen worked at the Bank of New York and Patricia, at the South Tower on floor 98 where she worked as an insurance claims adjuster for AON. At 8:46 a.m. when the North Tower was struck by Flight 11, Eileen immediately tried to contact Patricia by phone but the line was busy. Eileen was then instructed to evacuate and she assumed that her older sister was also descending to safety and that the two would reunite later. But Patricia was never again heard from or seen. Many months after the attacks, the NYPD's World Trade Center Property Recovery Unit informed Eileen that Patricia's black pocketbook had been found. Returned to Eileen all its contents, that same purse with its personalized belongings has been donated to the Memorial Museum’s permanent collection.
Fire Lieutenant Mickey Kross Shares His Story
FDNY Lt. Mickey Kross was with Engine 16 responding to the fires at the WTC complex on 9/11. Listen to his harrowing and uplifting account of surviving the collapse of the North Tower.
Stories of Response
On 9/11 John Stiastny, an NYPD officer, arrived at the WTC complex around 1 p.m. His efforts in rescue and recovery were cut short when he was hit by falling debris and taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for a broken leg and injuries to his neck. Stiastny preserved his mud-encrusted boots and gloves he wore that day, along with the handcuffs that he carried and donated them to the Memorial Museum.
In the minutes following the attacks, New York City Mayor Giuliani called for a press conference. Matt Higgins, the mayor’s press secretary, and his colleagues organized a press conference on a street corner near the WTC where Giuliani was being briefed by the fire and police departments. With the burning towers only a couple blocks away, Higgins and his colleagues decided to move the press conference from this potentially vulnerable location. Listen to his account.