Preserving the Memories and Mementos of September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, the world saw the horrifying terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Many people worldwide rushed to American embassies to deliver messages of sympathy and support.

In ordinary times, U.S. embassies are powerful symbols of American values and commitment to diplomacy. But in extraordinary times, embassies also become places to mourn, where people gather to show respect and solidarity in the face of tragedy. 

Nicolas Sarkozy, Charles Rivkin September 11
U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin (left) and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy (right) lay a wreath during a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Paris for the ten-year anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world became memorial sites, filled with offerings of all kinds. Condolence gifts included flowers, candles, personal notes, drawings, and mementos. Schools and churches mailed packages containing heartfelt messages and artwork that expressed the world’s desire to help and comfort in the aftermath of this horrendous event. International first responders also expressed their sorrow at the loss of so many who had given their lives in the face of tragedy. 

Veiled Jordanian women sign a condolence book at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/Jamal Nasrallah)

Embassy personnel respectfully collected and saved these gifts.  Most of these items were sent to the State Department, where hundreds are now preserved in the collection of the National Museum of American Diplomacy. These offerings serve as a moving tribute of our solidarity with our fellow global citizens and as a lasting reminder that peace and hope can triumph in the face of terrorism.

German citizens spread thousands of flowers and candles during heavy rainfalls on the street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to honor the victims of the terrorist attack. (AP Photo/Fritz Reiss)

“The American spirit will prevail over this tragedy.” 

– Secretary of State Colin Powell

In remembrance of the 20th anniversary of this horrific attack on our country and the loss of so many American lives, the National Museum of American Diplomacy honors all those affected and extends gratitude to those who offered support in our time of sorrow.

u.s. embassy copenhagen september 11
Flory Reuben Thomsen lights a candle in front of the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her niece, Alona Avraham, of Israel, was killed in the 9/11 terror attacks. She was on the second plane that hit the World Trade Towers. (AP Photo/ Polfoto, Tariq Khan)

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