Steve Frank

Steve Frank  was starting his second work day  as the staff historian  at The National Constitution Center. He  had just picked up a copy of The Constitution from a collector and was driving to delivered it to the Center when the attacks started.  As the city shut down he decided to keep  the document in his house.

Below are Steve’s recollections. Listen or read the audio transcripts:

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And the next day I brought it back to the office and this was our first artifact and a real centerpiece for the Constitution Center. After all, it was the Constitution and that’s what we were dedicated to telling a story about and I put it on a conference table in a conference room and the staff gathered around and everybody just stood there silently looking at it. Any other day I think there would have been loud congratulations all around. But the significance of the document that day really struck us and what it represented, I think, was the true sense of that unity I felt when I had gone to pick it up, that it was the ideas embodied in that document that made us a people.


Sticking the right balance:

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Certainly we live in a post 911 world. Our feelings about security and about personal privacy, all that has changed. The kind of national security state that we have developed and come to accept is different from the kinds of ideas and institutions we would have accepted previously. Whether we have struck the right balance only time will tell.


“This is a new world” :

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Like most people I assume most people, those not directly impacted by it and those grieving went on with their lives but there was a very funny eerie mixture of emotions that had to do with that feeling that we had been attacked, we were vulnerable, and yet we had rallied together. I remember the flags flying on porches in my neighborhood, I remember the skies being silent because planes were grounded for a time and thinking this is different, this is a new world, and it was a mixture of sadness and solemnity and a feeling of coming together, it was a funny and unique feeling that I won’t ever forget.


The strength of the Constitution re-enforced:

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Steve Frank

I think that 911 and a lot of the events that have happened since then have raised the constitution in American consciousness. I think that people think about the Constitution consciously more than they did. Personally the more I learn about the Constitution and its history the more respect I have for the document and its durability. Also its flaws, even the framers of the Constitution didn’t believe that they had created a perfect document. That’s why they created the ability to amend it, but they did create a perfect set of ideals that have to do with individual liberty and inequality and I think that the Constitution provides a mechanism for us to achieve those ideals and that’s the kind of respect I have for its promise.

Produced and edited by Elisabeth Perez Luna


2 Responses to Steve Frank

  • Richard L. Lindberg

    I was at work on 9/11 and watched some of the events on my computer. All of us were sent home early that day. Later that week, my wife and I went on vacation. We listened to the service from the National Cathedral and watched TV coverage.

    9/11 was a significant event in US history, but I do not believe that I have changed my life because of it (other than as I and others have been forced to by the government). I do not share the resulting security paranoia of the government. My threat level is low. I did not support the incursion into Afghanistan nor the invasion of Iraq. I resent the assumption that I, as an American citizen, may be a closet terrorist. I am not worried about another similar or different kind of attack on the level of 9/11. I do not take special precautions. I do not fear Muslims. While 9/11 was terrible, it was one event. Flying was safe on 9/10. Aside from 4 flights on 9/11, flying was safe that day. It would have been safe on 9/12. I think the significance of 9/11 has been overstated in the United States.

  • Christopher Keenan

    I was seeing patients inmy CHOP pediatrc practice when the planes hit the towers, awaiting the birth of my youngest daughter, Melissa, born 2 days later. She now compains that we all have holidays for our birthdays (cinco de mayo, Thanksgiving, St Patrick’s day), and she is stuck with 9/11 I hold her tight and tell her that on the day she was born, she was the bright spark in our, and many others lives or a dark and dismal day. She will always be my bright spark

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