June 18 – Auditorium

The 911 Visitor Services email volunteers when additional help is required. Last week’s email had, among other dates and times, the Father’s Day opening shift understaffed. While Ididn’t exactly have nothing to do that day, I put my name in anyway.

The Auditorium post is similar to my first one alone, except the auditorium accommodates around 145 visitors plus about 8 wheelchair spaces.

The auditorium is situated on the Atrium level. The Museum’s cafe is also on this level. I haven’t been to the cafe yet, but I hear it’s quite good.  The auditorium itself is very beautifully done, with spacious seats and soft lighting. The films are 15 minutes long and shown ever hour. I say “films”, because there is a different film  on the hours and the half hours.

The one on the hour is “Facing AuditoriumCrisis: America Under Attack” The Museum website describes it as “Key 9/11 decision makers describe the events of the day. Features original interviews with President George W. Bush, New York Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, among others. Screened exclusively at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.” I did see this one and did find it interesting.

The other film, showing on the half-hour is “Facing Crisis: A Changed World” and this is described as “World leaders examine 9/11’s impact on global events. Features original interviews with President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, among others.” This film is also screened exclusively at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I have not attended this one yet, but visitors who watch the “Under Attack” film have lined up again to see the 2 nd film which described the consequences and aftermath of the 911 events.

The Museum occasionally presents live talks, as well. Last week the talk was about “The Man in the Red Bandana”. Sounds like a kid’s story, right? In fact it was about  a man who saved countless lives at the expense of his own and how he came to wear the red banana that made so many survivors remember him. I did read the book – a quick read, but I still would like to have attended that live talk.  As Amazon states, Welles’ story carries an inspirational message that will resonate with adults as well as young children.

Now that you know all about the auditorium and the type of programs held, here’s what I did: Control the line, count the number of individuals in line, escort the wheelchair-bound visitors to the appropriate spaces through the appropriate door, describe the films on view and engage with the visitors in line. Of course, that last task is one of the reasons I’m a volunteer.

The day was generally uneventful. Everyone was courteous and expressed a lot of interest in the films. One person did seem perturbed that the films are only in English, so I sent her down to Rebirth (my first day) where, while in English, one  doesn’t need to understand the language of the time-lapsed photography.

Of course, there were also recounts of where one was “on the day”, as we tend to call 9/11/2001, and one woman asked where I was. That was unusual. We are not to begin a discussion with a visitor as to where we were then, but, instead listen and empathize with those visitors who do ask. I explained to the woman who asked me that I was in Tokyo for a sumo tournament. She was an American woman, so I was very surprised when she asked if I were in Tokyo for the basho.Basho is what the regular sumo tournaments are called in Japanese. Well, she turned out to be a principal in a company that does PR work in the US for NHK World, the arm of NHK-TV in Japan that broadcasts the tournaments live.

The time went by very quickly and I went near home to get a well-welcomed pedicure.

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