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Curating Courage

Arlington Public Library Remembers September 11

“It was a beautiful day. It was a gorgeous, blue sky, crisp day and broken when the aircraft hit the building and the smoke that came off the Pentagon for hours and hours and then seeing the Pentagon glowing at night and having been military seeing the Pentagon, the fortress, the citadel of our military power burning, that is one of the images that’s burned, that will always be there. To turn that corner and look at the smoke and after we put people out, to go out at two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning that first night and seeing it glow, like I said, that will always be one of my memories.”

-James M. Daly, Police Officer

Oral History Transcripts


A Hill staffer; a firefighter; a former high school principal; a young mother – these are a few of the narrators whose stories are collected in “September 11: Oral History Interviews to Commemorate the 5th Anniversary.” 

Initiated, curated and made available by the Library’s Center for Local History, the collection is at once, raw, emotional, objective, and thought-provoking.  The stories are no less compelling today than they were 10 years ago.  In its totality, the collection is a factual document that thoughtfully and eloquently interprets the events of September 11, 2001.

Yet, it is more than that.

Stories define a community anchoring its past to its present to form a bedrock for its future.  Stories say: we celebrate, we care, and we honor.  As keepers of the public record, librarians have a unique obligation to collect and preserve the stories of our times. In its disarming candor and simplicity – just a group of narrators and interviewers –   the “September 11 Oral History Collection” illuminates and preserves for all time the experiences of fellow Arlingtonians as they went about their lives on an unimaginable day that changed the course of history.

We invite you to read, listen and remember.   


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