“It was a weird day at school,” recalls Visitor Services Volunteer Maggie Jacobsen, who was among the many students in her third grade class to be picked up early on Sept. 11, 2001.
Her father was working on Rector Street at the time of the attacks, a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. He ran away from the burning buildings, heading south around the lower tip of Manhattan and then up the East side, where he ended up at Molly’s Irish Pub.
She was confused as she waited for him at the train station with her mom and younger sister.
“He came off the train and he was covered in soot,” she said. “My only understanding at the time was that something bad happened and my dad came home. But I had classmates who had parents that didn’t come home.”
Jacobsen, a Long Island native and rising senior at St. John’s University, came across an online posting for 9/11 Memorial volunteer positions amidst an unrelated job search, and decided that donating her time would be a concrete way to put the popular “Never forget” mantra into action. She began volunteering once or twice a week before the Museum’s opening, assisting visitors out on the Memorial Plaza.
Jacobsen relayed one particularly gratifying experience at the reflecting pools: helping a pilot find the engraved name of his friend who, as she recalls, had died on United Flight 93.
“He seemed so appreciative,” she said. “He gave me a hug, and his daughter took a picture of us.”
Jacobsen says she hopes visitors recognize the reverence that the World Trade Center site demands—and that they leave with a greater understanding of the triumph of the human spirit.
9/11 Memorial volunteers help educate visitors on the events of 9/11 while humanizing the story with their personal experiences. Listen to stories from the 9/11 Memorial Volunteers or visit 911memorial.org/volunteer to learn more about getting involved.
By Jennifer Finn, 9/11 Memorial Communications and Digital Media Intern