Oral histories at WTC museum will keep stories alive

September 6, 2006

International Herald Tribune


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NEW YORK People who lost loved ones at the World Trade Center in 1993 and the 2001 terrorist attacks are sharing their memories through an oral history project that will be part of the memorial museum at ground zero.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials announced Tuesday that the museum would house the recordings made by the nonprofit organization StoryCorps.

“Through this project, we have an opportunity to ensure that memories will live on long after we are gone, for generations to come,” Bloomberg said.

StoryCorps has set a goal of recording at least one story about each of the 2,979 people killed at the trade center, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11.

The oral histories are recorded like conversations, with pairs of witnesses interviewing each other. The memorial museum is scheduled to open in 2009.

In 157 interviews already recorded, relatives and friends recount their most vivid memories of their lost loved ones, document what is known about their deaths and the pain they felt.

In one of the recordings, Richard Pecorella, 54, recalls meeting fiancee Karen Juday, a 52-year-old administrative assistant for the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm, in the spectator stands of a car race in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Then, he remembers looking out the window of his Brooklyn office and seeing one of the towers on fire. “I took my office chair and threw it at the window.”

StoryCorps’ founder, Dave Isay, said he hoped the project would serve as a “beacon of hope” for the families, survivors and rescue workers.

StoryCorps runs a larger project, aimed at capturing the memories of average Americans on a variety of topics. Its booth at Grand Central Terminal has collected about 2,500 interviews since October 2003. In May, two StoryCorps “mobile booths” embarked on cross-country journeys.


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