Registered VA nurse and Army Reserve Lt. Col. Catherine Nadal added volunteering to her busy schedule this year—starting her Tuesday afternoon shifts as a Visitor Services Volunteer during the 9/11 Memorial Museum's dedication period in May.
During this time of exclusive availability to 9/11 stakeholders, such as family members of victims and first responders, Nadal met visitors with particularly strong ties to the events of Sept. 11, including a few of the flight attendants who created commemorative quilts from United Airlines uniforms in honor of their deceased coworkers. One of these quilts currently hangs on display in the Museum.
Visitors' curiosity often extends beyond the site itself—and Nadal is more than happy to help. If they ask for a post-Museum lunch recommendation, she'll point them toward O'Haras—a restaurant and pub just around the corner that survived the Twin Towers’ collapse and later became a frequent stop for rescue and recovery workers. To tourists who express further interest in the surrounding city, she might tell the story of those who sought safety on Sept. 11 by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Museum-goers have chosen to walk that same route, she says—a final stop on a visit that resembles a kind of pilgrimage.
"You can help them complete their tour," she said.
Nadal, who was living in Yonkers on Sept. 11, felt the effects of the attacks quite tangibly. Following 9/11, the active Army and Army Reserve went on alert, and in 2004 Nadal deployed to Iraq, where she served for a year.
Nadal likens the Memorial and Museum experience to "walking a time in history." She wants visitors to leave the site with a sense of reverence and a deeper understanding of how the world has changed—as well as the knowledge that "a place of reflection and healing" exists.
In addition to volunteering at the Museum, Nadal is also heavily involved in organizing New York's Wounded Vet Run, a motorcycle run in honor of two Long Island Marines wounded in Afghanistan.
Nadal wholeheartedly encourages others to make the time to volunteer.
"It's so rewarding," she said.
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