Son of 9/11 Survivor Reflects on Ambassador Program

John Spade, son of 9/11 survivor and museum docent, Bill Spade, speaks to a woman with a clipboard beside the Last Column in Foundation Hall. He is holding up a large patch dedicated to the heroes of 9/11.
John Spade, son of 9/11 survivor and museum docent, Bill Spade, reflects on the evolution of his 9/11 education.

I was a little more than 2 months old during the September 11 attacks. I never knew what the world was like prior to 9/11.

For that matter, I never knew what my father, a New York City firefighter, was like prior to 9/11. Growing up in the presence of a survivor, I was able to experience the adaptations of emotions that one goes through when mourning such a large tragedy firsthand. In my early memories, I remember it was talked about. But I was simply too young to understand.

As I grew older, I could comprehend the meaning of his stories, the extremity of the attacks, and the impact it had on people all over the world. Most evidently, I understood the impact it had on my family. To think that I could have easily lost my dad that day is something that continues to touch my heart on a level that is truly inexplicable. This honest education I had from my relatives made me realize how important it was to preserve this history.

The lack of mention of that day in schools left me extremely upset. I found it hard to believe that such a moment in the history of, not only our city, but the world was not recognized by the education system.

From this feeling, I came to understand that it would be important to educate people, especially children, through an alternative platform. When my dad asked me to accompany him to the graduation of the first ambassador class he had spoken to, I knew I had finally found my platform.

There was no doubt in my mind that I would apply to the Museum Ambassador Program as soon as I was eligible. Now that I am in the program, I cannot imagine my life without it. The work I have done has provided me with a depth of knowledge and has inspired me to explore a field involving 9/11 education.

Beginning on September 11, 2021, John Spade will share his story, along with five other speakers, as part of this year’s sixth annual Anniversary in the Schools webinar. Register for this free program here.

The webinar is made possible thanks to generous support from The New York Life Foundation.

By John Spade, 9/11 Museum Ambassador

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