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Smithsonian Launches Collection Honoring Hispanic Rescuers, Victims of 9/11

Museo Smithsonian presentará colección conmemorativa del papel de los latinos el 11 de septiembre

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The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, which houses the 11S official repository, commemorates this week the most important anniversary of the attacks on the “activism” of the Latin community and its contributions to the country’s community.

It is the result of the “New York City Latino 9-11” Recollection Initiative, led by the curator of the 11S collections, Cedric Yeh, who underlined that one of the responsibilities of this museum located in Washington DC, “is to prove a major passing on and being able to give future generations an idea of ​​what they are and what the consequences are ”.

This project centered on the Latin commencement in 2018, has received funding from the Latino Center of the Museum and gained momentum in the last three years thanks to Dulcina Abreu, an assistant curator of Dominican origin who mediated with the Latin community of New York Cityhis presence in the narrative of the accounts.

“The activism (of Latinos) has favored the United States as a whole,” Abreu points out, with achievements such as expanding the coverage of the compensation fund for 9/11 victims for the next 70 years thanks, in large part, to the struggle of the police officer Luis Álvarez, whose name appears in the legislation as a tribute along with other activists.

Álvarez, a former New York Police detective, died at age 53 in 2019 from cancer related to toxic debris after the collapse of the Twin Towers after years claiming that those who, like him, were working in the work of recovery of Ground Zero.

And it is that in 2001, 27% of the population of the Big Apple was Hispanic, so their experiences are intertwined in the fabric of History: Latinos represented about 10% of those who disappeared and died in the attacks, a “A large percentage” of them worked cleaning the place, and many others volunteered their time and resources.

“After September 11 there was a lot of misinformation (among Latinos) and many of them did not speak English: they have a trauma in relation to language, in addition to the historical moment,” said the expert, who has been working with them and emphasizes that you want were or are undocumented also suffered in relation to their immigration status.

Using an internal participatory mapping technique to collect testimonies, Abreu has even observed how “the city was changing due to the services provided after the attacks,” for example, reporting that in Washington Heights all the Dominicans who sought help after the attacks ended up because They only spoke Spanish.

“That was an epicenter of help for the community outside of ‘Ground Zero’,” he added about this neighborhood in Upper Manhattan.

Photograph provided by the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution where the members of the Quartermaster Company 311 of the United States Army Reserve (Mortuary Affairs), from Aguadilla (Puerto Rico), who were called to the few days after the attack on the Pentagon and they stayed for eight months, in New York (United States). (EFE)

The commemoration initiatives

The expert highlights that the museum seeks to influence the collective effort of Hispanics to move forward after the trauma of 9/11, as reflected in a virtual panel to be held on September 10, entitled “Latinx empowerment after the attacks”, and that it will feed the research of the project.

The guests will share their experiences “navigating the complex immigration policy, the worsening effects on their health and socioeconomic problems while serving as an emergency team, volunteers, organizers and caregivers”, in collaboration with entities such as the Consulate General of Mexico in New York.

It will also highlight how the arts community has experienced “the aftermath” of the attacks with another event in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of Chinese in America New Yorkers, on September 9, all part of a series called “Untold stories, unheard voices / Hidden stories, hidden voices.”

The project has also promoted the collection of objects related to Latinos in New York and outside the borders of the United States, including Mexico, although at the moment they are not on view, since the museum operates with limitations and is showing its general collection 9/11 due to the pandemic.

Among the new additions are the necklace worn by Milagros Batista at a vigil, who launched the “Heart to Heart” aid program for affected families; or the sweater of a Fire Department medical worker, Ivonne Coppola Sánchez, that she wore while helping to set up a makeshift morgue.

Another key element of the anniversary is a “storytelling” tool called “September 11: Chronicles of a Changed World” that seeks to become “a digital note book” open to the entire country to collect personal stories about September 11. September and how that day changed their lives, and in which you can write in Spanish.

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