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  • Part of an engine from United Flight 175, which struck the World TradeCenter’s South Tower, will be on display in a new Newseum exhibit, “War on Terror: The FBI’s New Focus.” It opens Sept. 2 and runs through 2012 at the museum in Washington. Illustrates NEWSEUM-SEPT11 (category e), by Jacqueline Trescott (c) 2011, The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. (MUST CREDIT: Newseum photo by Sarah Mercier)
  • These cellphones and pagers were found in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack. They are part of an exhibit, “War on Terror: The FBI’s New Focus,” set to open Sept. 2 at the Newseum in Washington. Illustrates NEWSEUM-SEPT11 (category e), by Jacqueline Trescott (c) 2011, The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. (MUST CREDIT: Newseum photo by Sarah Mercier)
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Washington event captures resilience after 9/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The scene is one that is forever etched into American memory: A commercial airliner plows into the side of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Soon after, another plane collides into the south tower. Fear, panic and smoke engulf lower Manhattan, and millions of people begin to evacuate.

After the attack, every mode of transportation out of New York City was shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands stranded. In a spontaneous act of resilience, ferryboat captains, coast guardsmen and civilian boaters ushered more than 500,000 panicked people out of the city in an unplanned, nine-hour rescue effort.

This was the basis for “Boatlift,” an original 12-minute documentary narrated by Tom Hanks. The gripping film opened “Remembrance, Renewal, Resilience,” the Center for National Policy’s daylong film festival and summit Thursday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“The documentaries tell the other side of the Sept. 11th story,” said Scott Bates, vice president at the Center for National Policy. “They help us remember how resilient the American people can be.”

According to the center’s president, Stephen Flynn, the documentaries were made to remind the American people that in spite of the tragic events that occurred on 9/11, a selfless and unified spirit emerged.

“Our cameras were all focused on the towers; they weren’t focused on the response effort and how civil society responded,” Flynn said. “On one side, there was horror. On the other, people were turning to each other with unity and selflessness.”

Other original documentaries presented at the festival included “Wounded Warriors,” “Gulf Coast Resilience” and “Rebuild.” The event centered around the themes of civility and the perseverance of the American spirit. After the premiere of each film, a panel comprised of the people portrayed spoke to the sold-out audience about their experiences.

The “Boatlift” panel, moderated by Dan Rather, featured members of the Coast Guard as well as civilian boaters who responded to the evacuation call after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“When I go to the city again, now with my boat, every now and then I still look back on the piers. I still see people standing there,” said Vincent Ardrolino, who used a chartered yacht he was skippering, the Amberjack V, to evacuate people.

Attending the event were media members, politicians, servicemen and heroic civilians who shared their experiences. The Center for National Policy took the occasion to launch the Campaign for National Resilience, a movement aimed at recapturing the spirit of unity that followed that horrible day.

A panel discussion on the 9/11 Commission featuring Senators Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, was followed by an award presentation honoring the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in rebuilding ground zero, as well as praise for the town of Gander, Newfoundland, for receiving passengers on many flights that were diverted from American airports after the attacks.

According to event speaker Dr. Judith Rodin, of the Rockefeller Foundation, Americans must continue to build resilience systematically in all dimensions.

“Resilience, simply put,” she said, “is the core of effective coping.”

This theme carried throughout the event created by the Center for National Policy and Voices of September 11, in cooperation with the Community and Regional Resilience Institute and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

In addition to the Rockefeller Foundation, the event was supported by a bipartisan honorary Congressional Committee, which included New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.

“It’s about recapturing the spirit of ‘united we stand,’ which is a message we can all agree is important given the times,” center Vice President Bates said.