Sunday, September 11, 2011

Official emails, 9/11 and the days after

Emails from 9/11 and the days after.

11 September 2001
9:29 am: SIL Director to staff
I just learned that one, maybe two, airplanes have crashed in Manhattan, one on one of the World Trade Towers. New York is shut down.  Probably all the phone lines are tied up.  So if you have business with the Cooper-Hewitt today, it may not be possible to get through.

10:09 am: All staff email
Smithsonian museums will have a delayed opening until 12:00 noon today 9/11/2001.

10:44 am: SIL Director to staff
OPM has sent an announcement releasing all federal employees.  The Metro is closed, bridges to Virginia are blocked.  We're all in the same boat and I wish us all luck in getting home safely.

11:12 am: All staff email
Secretary Lawrence Small has announced that the Smithsonian is closed.
All employees may leave immediately. However, employees who wish to remain in the buildings may do so. Please listen to news reports for information about the situation tomorrow.

12 September 2001
9:01 am: SIL Director to staff
I hope you all got home safely yesterday without too much difficulty.

We are all sobered by this tremendous tragedy.  Supervisors, please touch base with all of your staff to make sure things are OK.  Let me know via email or phone if there is anyone on the SIL staff who has been personally affected by losing a loved one or friend either here or in New York.

1:59 pm: All staff email
I join with each of you in sharing our deepest sorrow in this moment of national sadness.  I also wish to express my appreciation to each of you for your efforts and dedication to the Smithsonian during this difficult time.  It is important for our nation to be able to view its historic collections and use our scholarship as reminders of America's resolve and citizenship in times of great adversity.

In keeping with the President's pledge to the American people, the museums, research centers, and facilities of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. are open.  All Smithsonian museums, galleries, and the National Zoo opened to the public as usual at 10:00 a.m. today and will remain open until 5:30 p.m.

In accordance with the closing of the Borough of Manhattan below 14th Street, the National Museum of the American Indian's George Gustav Heye Center, located in the U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan, will remain closed until further notice.  The Smithsonian's other facilities in New York City, including the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the Archives of American Art, will also be closed today but expect to return to normal hours tomorrow.

14 September 2001
10:45 am: All staff email
President George W. Bush has proclaimed Friday, Sept.14th a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims of this national tragedy.

As an institution with thousands of employees and volunteers, and with facilities in many states and many parts of the globe, it is impossible for us all to assemble in the same place.  Yet, we can all join in the same moment of mourning for those lost and gratitude for the countless acts of courage by so many.  Accordingly, at noon (EST) today, Friday, Sept.14th, we ask that all employees stop business as usual for an appropriate period of time to silently reflect on the events of this week.

We are thankful that virtually all Smithsonian employees, including our colleagues in New York at Cooper-Hewitt, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Magazine and the George Gustav Heye Center, have been contacted and are safe and unharmed.  But because of problems with telecommunications in New York City, several employees have not yet been reached.  Efforts continue to do that.  Please keep our co-workers in your thoughts as they may well have family and friends affected by the tragedy.

We have decided to cancel the Board of Regents' dinner, scheduled for this Sunday in Washington, D.C., and have donated the food purchased for the event to the Red Cross. They will give it to support teams working at the Pentagon site.  Additionally, the flowers purchased for the Regents' dinner will go to the Red Cross and will be placed on the platform at the memorial service at Red Cross headquarters tomorrow.

We have placed books at museum information desks so visitors can record their thoughts on these trying times.  We will keep these reflections because they are part of our history.

Throughout the Smithsonian's history, we have, and will continue to perform, an invaluable service for the American people. Stewardship of the treasured objects and stories of the struggle for democracy is a responsibility we accept at the Smithsonian with a sense of enormous seriousness, even awe.  At times like the present, we recognize howjustified that sense of commitment is.   Thanks to your dedication, the
doors of the Smithsonian remain open to the American people so they can explore our past struggles and successes.  The treasured icons of our past remind us of the values we hold dear-and give us hope for the future.  Thank you for your service to the Smithsonian and the country.

21 September 2001
7:42 am: All staff email
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Office of Protection Services (OPS) has instituted several new security measures at all museums and buildings.  These new measures include increased security sweeps in facilities by K-9 Officers.  Security Officers are now conducting bag/purse/parcel checks at all staff and visitor entrances.  OPS has initiated twenty-four hour exterior patrols on all Smithsonian property on the National Mall and increased the number of Officers at perimeter doors.  These new security measures have also been initiated at the Smithsonian New York museums and facilities.

In addition, OPS has elevated security measures at all Smithsonian loading docks and parking garages/lots to include requiring car occupants to present a Smithsonian ID, checking for unauthorized vehicles, and conducting random vehicle searches with the assistance of K-9 Officers.

These security measures will continue indefinitely.  OPS requests that all Smithsonian employees display their Smithsonian ID while in non-public areas of Smithsonian buildings.  Any employee who notices suspicious persons or packages on Smithsonian property should contact the security unit in that facility.  OPS appreciates your cooperation during this period.

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