The “9/11 Never Forget” mobile exhibit was created by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a group formed by the family of Stephen Siller, a New York City Fire Department firefighter who died on Sept. 11 while aiding rescue efforts.
The exhibit features a 53-foot tractor-trailer, which unfolds to reveal a 1,000-square foot museum. New York firefighters, who experienced the attack on the towers first hand, lead tours of the museum, which contains murals, remains of the towers and first responders’ gear.
For young people who may not remember much — or any — of what happened, the exhibit aims to show what 9/11 was truly like.
“If your very first indoctrination or discussion in any great detail about 9/11 is one sided, then it’s doing you as a student, and certainly the United States of America, an injustice or a disservice,” said John Hodge, the Tunnel to Towers chief operating officer and cousin of Stephen Siller.
Hodge said Tunnel to Towers aims to “do good” and show people what the experience was like, especially for first responders in New York.
In August, first-year Alec Dent criticized the required reading for the first-year seminar “Literature of 9/11” in an article for The College Fix, a conservative news website. Although Dent had not read the course’s literature, his argument caused a push for increased availability of diverse accounts of Sept. 11.
College Republicans Chairperson Frank Pray said the purpose of education is to show all viewpoints of issues, and bringing the exhibit to campus helped fulfill that.
“The real core of the issue comes down to the fact that the class’ curriculum is just very one-sided and represents a viewpoint from people who just think America is in the wrong no matter what it does,” Pray said.
He said Tunnel to Towers expressed interest in coming to UNC to the College Republicans, and the club filled out the required paperwork to bring the exhibit to campus.
“Any time a student organization makes a request (to host an event), we look at it based on its own merits and make determinations off of that,” University spokesperson Jim Gregory said.
UNC approved the exhibit to provide a learning opportunity, not to respond to criticism over the Literature of 9/11 course, Gregory said.
Gregory, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army, said the museum offers an opportunity for UNC to honor those who have served and perished.
The free “9/11 Never Forget” mobile exhibit will be parked in the Hanes parking lot off Cameron Avenue from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday with an opening ceremony at 11 a.m.