The 9/11 Tribute Center is a project of the September 11th Families’ Association. Our volunteers are all from the 9/11 community: survivors, first responders, Lower Manhattan residents, volunteers who helped during the recovery, and family members of lost loved ones. Our galleries are located across from the 9/11 Memorial in NYC at 120 Liberty Street, but we are a separate organization.

In remembrance of 9/11, our staff and three of our volunteers will be here answer any questions you might have about 9/11, the recovery and rebuilding, our organization, or education.

  • Ann, recently retired small business owner and dancer. Her husband was FDNY in the Bronx. His body was recovered near to the Last Column, the final steel beam ceremonially removed from Ground Zero.
  • Matt, currently working on the construction of the transit hub at the new WTC site. His father was FDNY and his body was recovered in a stairwell in the south tower with six other people.
  • Peter, recently retired and was involved in the rebuilding program. Peter was assigned as a member of engineering team supervising and providing technical support at Ground Zero until the end of the recovery on 6/30/2002. He also was at the WTC during the February 26, 1993 bombing.
  • Tribute Center Staff are also here to answer questions you may have about the programs, collections, volunteering, anything!

This week we launched a new collection of resources, Teaching 9/11: Lesson Plans for Multiple Disciplines featuring inspiring interviews with teachers and their students, and will also be offering new and improved Distance Learning programs open to classrooms anywhere!


EDIT 1:18pm -- THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYBODY. Our guides are hungry for lunch, and one of them has to head out to a tour soon. You all were amazing and our guides were really grateful for your heartfelt comments.

If you have further questions our ed staff regularly manages this account, but we can't answer more guide questions-- for that you'll have to come on a tour! Please check out our website and resources posted above!

Comments: 79 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

DrJamesRustlesESQ15 karma

What are your thoughts on the various conspiracy theories on 9/11 and do you think any of them have validity?

tribute91120 karma

Peter: As a volunteer, we lead groups of visitors onto the memorial and explain not only the memorial itself but the events of 9/11 and its impacts.

Ann: Whenever something happens that is beyond explanation, we assume there is a conspiracy.

Staff: Popular Mechanics debunks many of the big conspiracies in a very well written article. We just want people to note that it is insensitive to bring up the conspiracy theories while on the Memorial on September 11th.

Peter: The only conspiracy was among the terrorists who flew the planes into the buildings.

Matt: While there are unanswered questions, we do not feel that necessarily means a conspiracy and that doesn't change the events of that day and the people who were murdered.

pedroknowsbest-24 karma


tribute91113 karma

Peter: I can tell you-- the buildings were "demolished" by the planes that flew into them and caused the fires and damage. That's it. Including Building 7. (For clarity, Peter was firsthand involved with the PA, he was there and saw everything)

Matt: There are a lot of unanswered questions, but to fixate on a building that no one died in kind of ignores the fact that terrorists flew planes into buildings and murdered thousands of people that day.

minorsaint13 karma

What do you guys think of the new World Trade Center 1 (or "Freedom Tower" as it's colloquially known in some circles)? I would imagine seeing a new building, now the tallest in the United States, going up on that site could produce a range of emotions. Thanks for the AMA.

tribute9112 karma

Hi-- I can't speak for the guides since they left the AMA long before your post but it was bugging me (staff) this wasn't answered because it was one of the things I most wondered about when I started working here not too long ago. That said, what I'm saying is entirely my own observation and in no way an official viewpoint from the museum or our volunteers.

It is definitely bittersweet from what I have seen and heard. There's all sides of the spectrum on how people feel. For the majority of people that I've talked to, they seem genuinely pleased that the tower is almost finished. WTC wasn't just a place where people worked-- the WTC was also a community center for many. People lived here and still do. The lack of a booming business sector down here had many long-term effects. One restaurant that stuck it out through all of the recovery just now closed because they couldn't hang on long enough for the buildings to open next year.

The new WTC means Lower Manhattan is finally coming back to life.

Maccas7512 karma


tribute91110 karma

Thank you so much for visiting us! Did you go on a tour? We actually have a lot of Australians come on our tours, for which we're very grateful.

Ann about volunteering: It's part therapy (laughs) Also, I say this on tours, in the beginning it was just my story, but now I'm aware of other peoples' stories, and its been very helpful.

Staff: These guys are our history keepers of this.

Matt: I always say on my tours this experience of learning about history from those who were there (Ann: Person to Person History) has an expiration date. I always encourage people to come and do these tours while they still can. We're also all volunteers, nobody profits off of all of this.

Peter: I don't know what we're doing now. Previously there was a boundary on the site. They're (the street sellers) are supposed to be a block away from the site.

Matt: We rely on people like you to tell people that this is where they should come to hear the real stories.

Ann: We encourage you not to buy from people on the street.

NervousGremlin11 karma

Have you guys ever seen the documentary "The Woman Who Wasn't There"? And if so how do you feel about Alicia Esteve Head and the lies she told?

tribute91115 karma

Ann: I did tours with her-- it was beyond my comprehension that someone would make up a story to be part of the September 11th story. My heart was broken for the people that had befriended her and poured their hearts out.

sumpin2say8 karma

Ann, I just read your comment about your involvement being part therapy, and that brings me to my question for the rest of you.

I'm from a town in NJ that lost residents. I watched the towers burn from my father's back yard. I lost neighbors, my children's classmates lost parents. In the late 1990's my husband worked in the WTC and I worked in an office building nearby, so we were very familiar with the area, and recognized all the pictures on tv.

I'm still traumatized by the events that day. While I can only offer my heartfelt gratitude for all you're doing, I can't imagine the personal toll on you all from immersing yourselves in this project after losing family members or actually being on the scene that day.

So my question is personal. Why are YOU doing this?

tribute91110 karma

Ann: I do it because the stories have to be told. I always told my daughters to not let 9/11 define them, so instead I define 9/11 for people.

Peter: I too worked in WTC and lost many friends and colleagues that day. By volunteering, I help explain things and honor their memories.

Matt: Just to make sure that nobody takes for granted what they have.

SaraSmile4164 karma

I imagine speaking about your losses is very hard, yet in this job, you'll have to relive it every day. How do you cope? If you are having a "bad day," are you able to take a break or go home?

tribute9113 karma

Staff: Our volunteers don't do it all day every day. They're on a casual schedule and can schedule however many tours they want per day or per month. Usually about 2-4 a month for active volunteers.

Ann: Even if you are having a bad day, when you're at the Tribute Center, you know everybody gets it.

storytimeagain4 karma

Thank you for all you all did and continue to do. It's been nearly 13 years since that day. What has been the biggest change in your beliefs since that day? Have your thoughts about the world changed or evolved since that day?

tribute9114 karma

Matt: Yea, I mean, there was such an outpouring of compassion from around the world on Sept. 11th and our daily tours consist quite a bit of people from overseas. It has made me pay attention to what goes on in the world more because I've felt such compassion from the world, on that day and going forward.

Peter: As a result of working on the recovery efforts with all the responders, I have a much better understanding and respect for the true goodness in people.

kel293 karma

Are there ongoing efforts to incorporate 9/11 education into schools curriculum?

Also how likely is it to schedule a distance learning for 7 hours out of a day for students? Or does it need to be all at once?

tribute9113 karma

We would love to have our guides speak with your students. Contact me in a direct message or through our website and we'll talk about setting a distance learning program up!

There are definitely efforts going to incorporate 9/11 education, but as of this moment it is not required curriculum. Please check out our new online toolkit full of lesson plans and curriculum suggestions HERE!

theotherghostgirl3 karma

Ok so this is for everyone, sort of something light what is the weirdest thing you've seen working at the tribute center?

tribute9115 karma

Matt: One time I was going out to do a tour and the fire truck with my father's name on it was parked right across the Tribute Center.

Ann: A little wink from your dad!

Zerquoy3 karma

I would first like to thank you for everything you are doing. My mother was on the 69th floor, and although she made it out safely, my family did come close to losing her. What recognition or compensation do families of victims receive?

tribute9115 karma

I'm sorry but we're not the organization to ask this if you mean monetary/political compensation, so we can't answer that. As a 501(c)3 we cannot involve ourselves in politics by law.

Staff: In our galleries, though, we have a memorial wall that families can submit photos or objects for. We put them up and in a book so you can come and find them any time. Families get into our museum for free.

mergerr2 karma

Thanks for all the hardwork and support your organization has done. During the last 13 years what has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome as far as providing the support needed?

tribute9113 karma

Are you talking about financial or emotional support?

mergerr3 karma

Any kind of support.

tribute9113 karma

Staff: We help our volunteers learn how to frame and share their story, which provides a measure of relief for people to be able to share a troubling experience. Our volunteers find a level of support from visitors-- from their compassion and interest in this history. The guides support each other as they learn more about the complexity of their unique experiences. We provide monthly speakers, which help provide historic context.

Frajer2 karma

do you ever find it hard having to talk about such a difficult day ?

tribute9112 karma

Hi! We answered this question in two parts you can see them Here about why we do it and Here about bad days

Edit: Fixed links

Icantworklikethis2 karma

I was in 6th grade the day this tragic event happened and I didn't fully understand what was going on at first. When I arrived at school we had an assembly to allow the administrators a chance to explain the events. Many parents were picking up their children from school just in case this was a nation wide travesty. I can't imagine the thoughts that were racing through your heads when the towers were hit knowing members of your family were inside. My love and respect goes out to you and your families.

What types of things can we see at your exhibit?

tribute9113 karma

Our galleries are composed of photographs and personal objects each accompanied by a personal experience. We're an entirely separate organization from the 9/11 Memorial Museum, even though our tours are a collaborative effort on the memorial.

Our Website

A_Dog_Chasing_Cars2 karma

How do you feel about post 9/11 american policies?

Thanks for doing the AMA.

tribute9117 karma

Haha I'm sorry but we're not a very political bunch. As a 501(c)3 we cannot involve ourselves in politics by law.

neobaba4562 karma

Thank you so much for doing this AMA.

How has doing this since affected the way you see the world and people around you?

tribute9112 karma

Hello! We just answered that with a top comment, if you have anything further just ask :)

Our answer

Edit: fixed comment link

RoswellSpaceman2 karma

Thank you all for doing this AMA.

My question is for Ann and Matt. Did you speak with your husband or father after the attacks occurred that morning? If so, what did they say? Did they acknowledge that going into the towers would be extremely dangerous and risky?

Both of them are true heroes, and they'll always be remembered.

tribute9116 karma

Ann: No, I did not speak to my husband that day. He had been on duty since Sunday. But, I never doubted he would be there because he was part of a FDNY Squad 41 (special operations command).

Matt: I did not speak to my father, nor did anybody in my family. We all knew he was working that day and wouldn't be any place else. Thank you for the question and kind words!

buildingbridges2 karma

What do you do as a volunteer at the memorial?

tribute9115 karma

We're volunteers at the Tribute Center, which is a separate organization from the 9/11 Memorial Museum but we work in partnership with them to give walking tours on the Memorial. Our tours are unique because we share our personal stories as well as timeline/history of the area, and symbolism in the Memorial

Ann: A lot of people come to the Memorial and have no idea what the symbolism is. They see the Survivor Tree and have no idea what it is.

Peter: One of things we do is explain the concept of the Memorial as well as the ongoing construction of the new World Trade Center Site.

AnonymousReed22 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! This is pretty cool of you guys! My question: What were you all doing when you first heard about the attacks? How have the events changed your life now?

tribute9117 karma

Ann: I had just taken my daughters to school. I was driving my car.

Peter: I was away, out of the building, on vacation that day.

Matt: I was on vacation as well.

As for changing everyone's lives...

Peter: whew!

Ann: There is a new normal.

Matt: It robbed me of one of my most valued resources-- my father.

Vinyl-201 karma

Hello, thank you for doing this AMA, you guys are amazing for everything you have done for all the people involved in this terrible event. My question maybe a little bit un-orthodox but I'm curiuous after I've seen the documantary the 9/11 faker.

Did you know Tania Head? And how do you see her after all what happend.

tribute9112 karma

Please see this comment

Thanks for the question.

Edit: fixed comment link

[deleted]0 karma


tribute9113 karma

The 9/11 Tribute Center is a project of the September 11th Families’ Association. Our volunteers are all from the 9/11 community: survivors, first responders, Lower Manhattan residents at the time, volunteers who helped during the recovery, and family members of lost loved ones (The Memorial Museum does not have these specific volunteer requirements).

We are a partnered but separate organization. We hold a weekly program in their museum and lead the official walking tours on the memorial, but we have our own galleries as well on the opposite corner of the memorial. Our lessons are more about character development, resilience and recovery than about the well-known history. We also have a partnership program in Japan with survivors of the tsunami and Fukishima nuclear disaster and house one of Sadako's last five cranes as a message of peace and end to war.

As for donating to Tribute, we have a page with information for if you would like to give a contribution (THANK YOU SO MUCH). We also have an Amazon Smile account if you would like to set up so that a portion of every purchase you make goes to us. Just search for September 11th Families (or Widows and Victims)

purplepooters-3 karma

have you finally got rid of the country shaped cheese plate in the souvenir shop?

tribute9112 karma

Hi, I think you have us confused with the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The 9/11 Tribute Center is actually a separate entity focused on personal stories and experiences of individuals, run by the September 11th Families' Association. We're located across from the Memorial on Liberty Street.

For a description of how we're different, see another comment

Edit: fixed comment link

BallsBallsEverywhere-7 karma

Reddit has a very prominent atheist community. Many of us felt that inclusion of the so-called "WTC Miracle Cross" was and is a violation of the boundary between church and state.

Can you talk a bit about your position on the inclusion of this item in your collection? How much does this single piece assume in your annual budget? Why did the museum feel the need to fight so hard for this controversial item remain as part of the collection?

tribute9118 karma

Hi, I think you have us confused with the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The 9/11 Tribute Center is actually a separate entity focused on personal stories and experiences of individuals, run by the September 11th Families' Association. We're located across from the Memorial on Liberty Street.

For a description of how we're different, see another comment

Edit: fixed comment link