Dr. Benjamin Luft Discusses 9/11 Oral Histories at Library of Congress

 

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    The LOC’s American Folklife Center Will Serve as a Repository of the Oral Histories

    STONY BROOK, N.Y., November 1, 2011 – Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Medical Director of Stony Brook’s World Trade Center Health Program, will present “We’re Not Leaving: Responders Oral Histories Redefine 9/11,” at the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on November 10. The Center will serve as the repository for oral histories of 9/11 first responders from around the country, which are being recorded and filmed by Dr. Luft and the WTC Health Program staff as the Remembering 9/11 oral history project. The lecture will be held in the Mary Pickford Theater, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

     After hearing many stories from his first responder patients, Dr. Luft came to believe that the experiences they recounted are part of our nation’s history and must, therefore, be preserved. So in 2009 he set out to do this by recording their personal stories as an oral history. In July 2011, the Library of Congress formally expressed interest in serving as the repository for the collected oral histories and other documentation created by the project. To date, approximately 150 oral histories have been documented. The project is slated to be completed in September 2012.

     “In many respects, the stories of the 9/11 responders are a reflection of the values that the American people hold dear, such as courage, patriotism, volunteerism, altruism, and a deep sense of community,” says Dr. Luft. “Their stories cause us to reflect on who we are as a people and the beliefs that we hold in high esteem and bind us as a nation.”

     To date oral history interviews have been with World Trade Center first responders who reside in the New York metro area. However, Dr. Luft and his team plan to interview first responders from all over the United States, who worked or volunteered as responders at each of the 9/11 attack sites, including the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa.

     Materials describing the Remembering 9/11 project and ways to participate will be available at Dr. Luft’s presentation, which is part of the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series.

    Copies of Dr. Luft’s new book, “We’re Not Leaving”: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal, will also be available at the lecture.

     Dr. Luft’s oral histories are part of a larger World Trade Center History Project at Stony Brook’s WTC Health Program and has served as the basis for a documentary created in collaboration with public television stations WLIW21 and WNET13, as well as the independent documentary film, “9/11: An American Requiem,” which debuted at the Stony Brook Film Festival last July. On September 11, 2011, Dr. Luft and some first responders who are part of the oral history project were featured on “60 Minutes.”

     Stony Brook’s WTC Health Program consists of clinics in Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island, and King’s County of Brooklyn. The clinics provide medical monitoring and treatment for all covered WTC-related conditions. More than 20 physical and medical conditions have been identified as related to work at Ground Zero. Additional Programs are located throughout New York and New Jersey. For more information about the consortium and program, see the WTC Health Program.

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