The selection of artifacts currently on view in the memorial exhibition all speak to the hobbies, writings, or drawings of 19 of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993 terror attacks. The Museum displays these objects in order to preserve the memory of the lives of those who owned them.
One such object is Jon Richard Grabowski’s planner. While a student at the University of Maryland, Jon worked at a café called Bagel Place. Jon used his planner to take note of his shifts at the café. Here, he befriended a coworker, Erika Lutzner, who would later become his wife. Both initially shy, they became close after Jon helped Erika understand a philosophical concept she was struggling with in a class. After discovering their mutual curiosity about philosophy, their bond was further cemented when they discovered the shared a favorite book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, which explores the meaning of the fragility and finality of human life. Jon documented in his planner meditations such as these and wrote about other passions he had including music, photography, and academia.
Not only does this planner humanize a life lost during the 9/11 attacks, but through the preservation of Jon’s philosophical reflections, personal life, and hobbies, it demonstrates the sanctity and fragility of human life and what it means to live a life only once.
Jon was Vice President at Marsh & McLennan Companies and worked on the 93th to 100th floors of the North Tower. Erika donated his planner to the Museum.
Anyone interested in donating materials in memory of a loved one—objects, photographs or audio remembrances—is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Michael Galati, Communications Department, 9/11 Memorial & Museum