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The September 11 Digital Archive

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Smithsonian “September 11:
Bearing Witness to History”

     Story of September 11
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Contributed by: David C. Morin
Contributor's location on 9/11: Orlando, FL
Contributed on: 31 October 2004

How did you witness history on September 11th?

At Walt Disney World, in Florida, we work amid the fantasy of cartoon and movies, in images of how the world should be or could be. I was working at Epcot that morning, and the day was just as perfect as it was in New York. One of my co-workers was at home and had seen the initial coverage of the first plane's attack on WTC Tower 1. She called me at work and said it was a small plane. I left the shop and went into the break area to see for myself. United 175 came on the screen and flew into Tower 2. I was in that room watching until the South Tower fell. The TV commentator couldn't identify what was happening. It was pretty obvious to me that the building had come down. That's where the smoke cloud originated. I left in shock to return to the shop and inform my fellow Cast Members what was happening. Now, as a rule, the Cast cannot tell the guests about current events unless they first ask us. Shortly after 11 am, Michael Eisner's voice interrupted the daily activity in Disney World's Parks, as well as in Disneyland. He announced that a national tragedy had occurred in Washington and New York. In Disney's concern for guest safety, we would be closing all the parks by 12 noon, eastern time. As the guests filed out, rather calmly I thought, they were of course curious about what had happened. Our location accepts the packages guest purchase inside Epcot. So when one couple asked me about the events, I told them about the commercial airliners that had struck both WTC towers and the Pentagon. The woman asked, with some trepidation, if there were passengers on the aircraft. With my simple, "Yes", it struck both of us that the tragedies and deaths in NYC and at the Pentagon were our own as well. The attacks were against the American people as a whole. I was one of the last people to leave Epcot's front entrance that day. I took a photo of the U.S. flag still flying high from the flagpole without a soul in the Park at mid-day. It was a moment in time. I knew we would survive. The next morning I took that same photo with the flag at half-staff. We opened the Park on time!

Has your life changed because of September 11, 2001?

From the moment I got home until this present day, 9/11 is not far from my thoughts. I taped everything I could of the news shows and the constant marathon of coverage for the first couple of weeks. In my work I use a box cutter. Every time I used it to open boxes, I thought of what similar tools had been used for on those four flights. When the airlines started flying again, I said a small prayer for everyone on board each craft that overflew me. I gained a new understanding of what our service groups do for us all and was ashamed that I had never thought about their sacrifices and bravery before. I made a conscious effort to thank every firefighter, police officer, EMS worker, and military serviceman I saw. I was so taken by that objective that I proposed a new pin for our collection based upon the print of Charles Boyer's "Mickey Thanks a Fireman". As more firefighters came to the parks and were looking for some material example of thanks for their service, I pressed our merchandising people for that pin. We got the first shipment of them on September 1st, 2002 and sold out of them in two weeks. I have bought many of them myself to give away to those same service folk I recognized. Disney recognized all our "heroes" in many and varied ways for that first year. It was a gratifying experience for all. The last two of those pins that I gave out went to the chief, and his deputy, of the Shanksville fire department, the first responders to the field where Flight 93 fell. I visited that field on 17 October, 2003.

What do you think should be remembered about September 11th?

I never want to forget the tragedy and suffering that went on that day. To do so, I believe, cheapens the memory of all those who died for just getting on a plane or going to work. I also never want to forget how this country gave up partisanship and pulled together for the common good. I wish the Congress today was as concerned about the individual American as they were when they all gathered to sing "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps. In this season of Presidential politics, I would like the memory of September 11th to be more than a political punchline. It seems that we in America are doomed to repeat our history because we so easily forget its teachings. And the last thing is that all this fighting about who was responsible for letting this attack happen is pointless. No one... I repeat, no one, could have forseen the actual event as it happened. We, in America, just don't have that much evil intent in us.

Did you fly an American flag after the events of September 11th?

Yes, I continues to fly the flag. At work, Disney allowed all Cast Members to wear an American flag on our costumes. In this instance, we joined the whole country in identifying who we are for the world to see. And just as the streets of New York City resemble a microcosm of the world's population, as did the victims in the WTC, we at Epcot and Disney have visitors from all the world each day.

Cite as: David C. Morin, Smithsonian Story #6867, The September 11 Digital Archive, 31 October 2004, <>.
Archival Information: 394 words, 2107 characters

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