About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for American Phoenix: Heroes of the Pentagon on 9/11

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to tonight’s discussion on American Phoenix: Heroes of the Pentagon on 9/11. Journalist Phil Hirschkorn and author Lincoln M. Starnes will be joined by Benjamin W. Starnes, Lieutenant Colonel Marilyn Wills, Army Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Braman, and Army Sergeant Major Tony Rose, all of whom were in the Pentagon on 9/11 and performed acts of rescue.

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Friday, September 10, at 6 p.m., we will present the discussion on “A Life of Selfless Service, Sacrifice, and Civic Engagement: Honoring the Life of Cyril ‘Rick’ Rescorla.” Although Rescorla perished in the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he is credited with saving the lives of 2,700 fellow employees of Morgan Stanley and inspiring all those around him.

And on Tuesday, September 14, at noon, we welcome back David M. Rubenstein to discuss his latest book, The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream. Through interviews with some of our nations’ greatest minds, Pulitzer Prize–winning historians, diplomats, music legends, and sports giants, the book looks into the inspiring story of America as a grand experiment in democracy, culture, innovation, and ideas.

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Twenty years ago, on a bright, blue-skied Tuesday morning, the world was rocked by the incredible news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Here in Washington, people streamed out of their buildings, stunned to see clouds of smoke rising above the Pentagon, just across the Potomac River.

Our guests for tonight’s discussion were eyewitnesses to the September 11 attack on the Pentagon and contributed to the rescue of survivors. Their stories are included in Lincoln Starnes’s book, American Phoenix, which is an account of the attack on the Pentagon told from the perspective of those who were there.

The National Archives presents this 9/11 commemorative programming in conjunction with an exhibit of children’s letters to victims, first responders, and recovery workers from the Red Cross 9/11 Recovery Program collection. The exhibit is on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives through October 6 and is online at Archives.gov, as well.

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Our moderator, Phil Hirschkorn, spent 25 years reporting and producing stories for national news networks, CNN, CBS, PBS, and FOX. Hirschkorn led one of the first CNN field crews dispatched to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and appeared in the CNN documentary America Remembers. He extensively covered the investigation of the attacks, including the work of the 9/11 Commission, and the rebuilding of the trade center site.

Now let’s hear from our panel. Thank you for joining us.