9/11 artifacts are 'pieces that truth' in victim stories

Andrea Haberman's wallet, which was ashen and badly damaged, remained untouched for six years. It was found in a drawer at her Wisconsin parents' home. There were also partially melted cell phones, her driver's licence, credit cards and checkbook keys.

9/11 artifacts are 'pieces that truth' in victim stories

The rims of her glasses had rusted and the lenses were broken.

These everyday items were remnants of a young, privileged life that was ended on September 11, 2001 when a hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Haberman, who was 25 years old and was about to marry, was on a business trip to Chicago when she was struck by a jetliner. This was her first time visiting New York City.

Haberman's relatives were most affected by her belongings that still smelled of Ground Zero. They donated their artifacts and memories to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to ease their grief.

Gordon Haberman, her dad, said that these are not the happy memories you want to keep someone in your heart."

A collection of 22,000 personal artifacts -- including some at the 9/11 museum and others at other museums around America -- provides a mosaic of lost lives as well as stories of survival: wallets and passports, gloves, clothes, shoes, rings, and baseball gloves.

Jan Ramirez (the museum's chief curator, director of collections) said that each person included in the tally was an individual who had lived a full life.

Ramirez stated, "We knew that families, the people who have lost a loved ones that day, were going to need a place, have an opportunity, to remember that person that never returned home from work, or that never returned from a flight," Ramirez added.

Many of these personal belongings were taken from the wreckage of the Twin Towers. Others were donated by survivors and the families of those who died.

Sean Rooney was a vice-president at Aon Corp. and died in the South Tower. Margot Eckert, his sister-in law, said that Rooney was a "builder" and that the tools of a carpenter were the "perfect antidote for the destruction".

After being trapped on the 105th-floor by fire and smoke, Rooney called his wife Beverly Eckert at their Stamford, Connecticut home. As he struggled for air, he spent his final breaths reminiscing about happier times and whispering, "I Love You."

His remains were never discovered.

Eight years later, Beverly was killed in a plane accident while she was traveling to her husband’s Buffalo high school to present a scholarship in his memory. She had put aside the things she wanted to tell her husband's tale, his story as a weekend carpenter and handyman, before she died.

Margot Eckert stated, "We have a burial place for her, but we don't have one for Sean." Artifacts are very important. Artifacts are facts about someone's life. These are facts that you can touch.

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