The 'Soft Power' of the 9/11 Memorial Museum
In "Cities, Museums and Soft Power," Ngaire Blankenberg and Gail Lord demonstrate why and how museums and cities are using their “soft power” to address some of the most important issues of our time.
With 37 years on the job, Lorraine Bay was the senior flight attendant assigned to Flight 93’s crew on the cloudless, clear Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001.
Colleagues who frequently flew with her remember it was Bay’s custom to carry a corkscrew in the pocket of her service uniform. By carrying her own tool, made by Franmara, a well-known distributor of bar ware and accessories, she freed herself from the worry of locating one in the aircraft’s galley kitchen during a busy flight and also accrued goodwill from frequent fliers who enjoyed attentive hospitality. Bay marked her name in tape on the corkscrew with the initials of her home airport base, “EWR,” for Newark International Airport in New Jersey. “If it was found by another flight attendant, the hope was they would just drop it in company mail and return it,” recalled a fellow United Airlines attendant.
On 9/11, Bay was working in economy class on the San Francisco-bound flight at her own request, but would have been ready to assist in first class once breakfast service in the main cabin was complete. While specific details of what transpired aboard Flight 93 remain undetermined, it is possible that the corkscrew was already in Bay’s apron pocket when the hijackers gained control of the cockpit 40 minutes after takeoff and may have been considered, or recruited as, an improvised weapon for the flight’s attempted recapture by passengers and cabin crew.
After its 2001 recovery from the Flight 93 crash site near Shanksville, Pa., the corkscrew – revealing distortion from the impact of the crash – stayed in FBI custody, its owner or use on 9/11 unresolved, until a fresh look answered the former question. In fall 2014, still bearing FBI-inventory tags, the corkscrew was returned to Bay’s husband, Erich Bay. Earlier this year, he decided to donate it to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where it joins several other personal items memorializing his wife, including her recovered United Airlines ID badge. This May, both the corkscrew and ID badge will be rotated onto display in the “Flight 93” alcove of the Historical Exhibition.
By Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator & Vice President of Collections