Special Programming Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of September 11th
Press Release · Monday, August 30, 2021

Washington, DC

Twenty years have passed since the attacks on September 11, 2001, an event that would devastate a nation and change the course of history forever. Even amidst unparalleled destruction and violence, the days after 9/11 showed the incredible strength, resilience, and courage of the American people. It is this spirit that the National Archives and the National Archives Foundation will commemorate during the 20th anniversary, with virtual programming that will be accessible live to viewers across the country. 

“The day America lost its innocence––September 11, 2001––is forever etched in my memory. On a management retreat with my Duke Libraries senior staff, we watched as the second plane hit and then the collapse of the towers. Stunned silence, shock, tears, and the realization that we, at last, were as vulnerable as the rest of the world,” Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said. “It is important that we, the holders of the Federal Government records documenting this event, pause and remember.”

On Tuesday, September 7, at 7 p.m. ET, “American Phoenix, Heroes of the Pentagon on 9/11” will shed light on the incredible individuals that endured the attack on the Pentagon, and their bravery and unity when faced with terror. This book talk will feature never-before-told stories, with moderator  journalist Phil Hirschkorn (the director of Reporting 9/11 and Why it Still Matters) joined by panelists Lincoln M. Starnes, author of American Phoenix, and Benjamin W. Starnes, Lt. Col. Marilyn Wills, Christopher Braman, Army Sergeant, 1st Class, and Tony Rose, Army Sergeant Major, who were eyewitnesses to the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th.

On Wednesday, September 8, at 5 p.m. ET, “How We Remember” will reflect on how public memorials help us both mourn and move forward. The program will include the architects and designers of each of the three 9/11 memorials in the United States: Michael Arad, architect of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City; Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, the husband-and-wife team who designed the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial; Paul Murdoch, architect of the Flight 93 National Memorial; and Spencer Bailey, journalist and author of In Memory Of: Designing Contemporary Memorials (Phaidon). 

On Friday, September 10, at 6:30 p.m. ET, join us to celebrate “A Life of Service, Sacrifice, and Civic Engagement,” which honors the immigrant story through the heroic actions of COL Cyril “Rick” Rescorla at the Twin Towers on that fateful day. Though Rescorla perished during the attacks, he is credited with saving the lives of 2,700 of his fellow Morgan Stanely employees. Megan Jones from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum moderates a panel featuring Conrad Crane, US Army Heritage and Education Center; Lissa Young, United States Military Academy; and Jenna Ryall, New York City Department of Education. 

“Most Americans remember exactly where they were at the time of the 9/11 attacks. It is hard to believe we are reflecting upon it 20 years later,” said Patrick Madden, Executive Director of the National Archives Foundation. “Though we are marking the anniversary of one of the worst days in American history, this programming celebrates the best of America: our empathy for our fellow citizens and strength in the face of tragedy.” 

In addition to live programming, the Archives will virtually display featured documents related to the event. Viewers can access Rick Rescorla’s naturalization and military records online via our DocsTeach platform, including resources and lesson plans for educators to bring COL Rescorla’s heroic story into their classroom. The Archives will also feature a virtual display of children’s letters to the Red Cross and other first responders, whose selflessness and bravery on that day saved thousands and inspired people around the world.

The National Archives' commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Maggie & Robert Boroujerdi.

For more information about the Foundation’s commemoration of 9/11, visit our website at

About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries and online at

About the National Archives Foundation
The National Archives Foundation is an independent nonprofit that increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage, and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The Foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at www.archivesfoundation.


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This page was last reviewed on August 30, 2021.
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