Oral History Archives

Rachel McPherson
Rachel McPherson is the founder and executive director of the Good Dog Foundation, a New York City-based pet therapy organization. After 9/11, the Good Dog Foundation worked with families of those who had been killed and with members of other impacted communities at the Pier 94 Family Assistance Center. Listen to Rachel talk about the role played by the trained therapy dogs at the Center and at the World Trade Center site and the effect they had.

Teachers and Administrators – P.S. 234

P.S. 234 is a public elementary school in New York City’s Tribeca community, only a few blocks north of the World Trade Center. Students, teachers, and other school personnel were just beginning one of the first days of school when the WTC was attacked. They were forced to evacuate from the school, holding hands and running for their lives as the dust and debris from the collapsed South Tower trailed them on Greenwich Street. All made it safely to P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village—a long walk for the students. Listen to teachers and administrators from the school recall their day.

Harry Ong, Jr. – Brother of Victim Betty Ann Ong
Harry Ong, Jr. remembers his sister, Betty Ong, known as Bee, who was a flight attendant aboard Flight 11 during the 9/11 attacks. She helped alert authorities on the ground about the hijacking of Flight 11 before the plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Listen to Ong recall his family’s reactions to learning that Betty was working on one of the hijacked flights.

Rosemarie O’Keefe – Former New York City Commissioner of Community Assistance
As the Commissioner of Community Assistance under then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Rosemarie O’Keefe created the 9/11 Family Assistance Center, a place where victims’ family members could find information and support. O’Keefe describes the genesis of the center and the spirit of compassion, respect, and warmth that prevailed there.

After a long battle with cancer, Rosemarie died on July 17, 2009. Her tireless efforts and lasting support for the greater NYC community after 9/11 will always be remembered.

Mindy Kombert & Sherry Kronenfeld – Flag of Remembrance
Inspired by the faces they saw in the missing persons flyers proliferating in NYC after the attack on the WTC, Westchester-based graphic designers Mindy Kombert and Sherry Kronenfeld decided to create a memorial flag that would feature the faces of those who were killed. Using photographs contributed by victims’ families and companies that had suffered significant losses on 9/11, they created the "Flag of Remembrance," a unique hand-stitched flag measuring 20 feet high by 27 feet wide.

Ken Feinberg – September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
Attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg served as special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which was created by Congress to provide economic relief to the 9/11 victims’ families, as well as those who were physically injured that day. Over the course of nearly three years, the fund awarded about $7 billion dollars to those who participated. Feinberg describes the significance of this unique endeavor and the many personal meetings and formal hearings he and his staff conducted with survivors and family members in order to learn about the lives of those impacted.

Matt Higgins – Press Secretary, Mayor Giuliani
In the minutes following the attacks, then New York City Mayor Giuliani called for a press conference. Matt Higgins, then the mayor’s press secretary, and his colleagues organized a press conference on a street corner near the WTC where Giuliani was being briefed by the fire and police departments. With the burning towers only a couple blocks away, Higgins and his colleagues decided to move the press conference from this potentially vulnerable location. Listen to his account.

John Whitehead – Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
After September 11, John Whitehead, a veteran Wall Street executive, was appointed to chair the newly established Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, where he oversaw preliminary planning for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.