September 11, 2001
The Terrorist attacks on September 11th have had a profound effect on our Nation and the World. On behalf of our Board of Directors, Officers and Crew of the Half Moon, and members and supporters of the New Netherland Museum, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the first casualties in this new war against terrorism, and our best wishes for a full recovery to those injured during last week's events.
Our Museum celebrates the birth of America's freedoms on the History pages of this website, and as described to thousands of our ship's visitors each year. Each year we invite young students to replicate Hudson's first voyage through New York Harbor and up the Hudson, trying as much as possible to match the ship's location to the date and place of the original journey.
This year, our Captain, crew, teachers, and student crewmembers inadvertently became eyewitnesses to history as the events unfolded on September 11th. Mindful of our first priority of student and crew's safety, immediate steps were taken to go upriver and get out of harm's way. Our Captain's letter, describing the situation, is reproduced in its entirety following this note, and he will work with the NYC Police and FBI in furnishing copies of photographs taken during the voyage to assist in their investigations.
We are most conscious of, and commit to continue educating people about the freedoms that the early Dutch contributed to the Spirit of America. May God bless the souls of all the victims, and grant our Nation the strength and wisdom to remove the terrorist scourge from our lives.
Dr. Andrew Hendricks, Chairman
- The New Netherland Museum.
Captain's Letter dated September 15, 2001
Our world was shattered the morning of September 11, 2001. As with the rest of our nation, we grieve the tragedy that has been inflicted on so many innocent lives. Out of respect, and to allow for a period of mourning, we cancelled the remainder of the first leg of our Voyage of Discovery, and postponed the final leg
This Voyage of Discovery is the annual re-creation of the 1609 voyage of the Half Moon. We start in lower New York Harbor and conclude in Albany on September 19, the date of Hudson's arrival at the limit of navigation. Along the way we anchor on the dates and at the locations that Hudson did. During the Voyage our student crew, comprised of middle school youth, pursues a rigorous educational program, and learns to operate the ship. This is why we found ourselves anchored two miles below the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001, 392 years to the day from when the original Half Moon lay at much the same site.
Many have asked, "What did the children see?" This is a legitimate concern about the impact of the monumental events that unfolded right before our eyes. People are naturally inclined to assume that horrific images of destruction and evil are those that last. But other more profound images emerged at a deeper and stronger level.
First, the students saw themselves respond immediately, competently and maturely, working as a team to weigh anchor, get the ship underway, and organize the vessel for protracted operations in conditions that we could not predict. While we could have implemented these actions with only our adult crew, our students took the initiative in the manner in which they had been trained earlier in the voyage. Without any explicit statement to this effect, they shouldered these adult responsibilities and carried them well. If one ever had any doubt about the future of our nation, let these outstanding young people serve as the beacon of hope for our ability to rise above any circumstance.
As we proceeded north, other powerful images unfolded before our eyes. Tens of thousands of people massed along the shoreline, where they had become trapped after evacuating buildings. Tugboats, ferries and commercial vessels from all parts of the harbor moved immediately to their aid. The vessels, overladen with people, moved back and forth from the Battery to New Jersey and Brooklyn. As each tower of the World Trade Center collapsed with a massive explosion, clouds of debris obscured lower Manhattan and reduced visibility on the nearby waters to zero. Yet we watched these vessels move deliberately from safety into the fog, putting themselves at grave risk in order to aid those on the shores.
Farther along, we could see a river of people and cars fleeing Manhattan. Every movement of people was north B except for the countercurrent of fire trucks, ambulances, and emergency vehicles of all types moving at maximum speed, carrying rescue workers into the area of maximum danger and need. During the hours it took us to reach the George Washington Bridge, the flow of rescue workers moving south into the danger zone never ceased.
While we had gotten a message through to the schools in the morning that we were safe, it was about 1:30 PM before we were finally able to establish direct contact with the schools, both to confirm our safety and to learn that our own families and communities were safe. About 5:30PM we reached our own home port and the safety of King Marine in Verplanck, NY; never have dock lines felt as secure as those put down that afternoon by Randy King.
We were met by Karen Urbanski, the Rensselaer Middle High School principal, who came with a school bus and counselors from Rensselaer, Philip Livingston Magnet Academy, and Bethlehem Central Middle School. By 9:30PM our students and their families were rejoined in a reunion joyful for our personal return, yet somber for the tragedy inflicted upon our country.
Following a period of mourning, we will resume our Voyage of Discovery on September 15. The ship is scheduled to arrive at the Corning Preserve in Albany on Wednesday, September 19, with a commemorative ceremony at noon. The ceremony is open to the public. Our schedule of school tours will proceed as planned, with school tours starting September 20, and continuing through October 12. The ship will be open to the public on weekends and Columbus Day from 10AM to 4PM.
Realize that the resumption of our Voyage and school tours is not a return to business as usual. We resume our daily activities with a clear vision of what the students saw. They saw the best demonstration of what makes our country strong. Values that animate people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities to work together for the common good. Values that compel rescue workers to walk into the heart of the flame to help those they do not know. Values that drive ordinary people to operate tugs and ferries through a shroud of smoke and debris to rescue stranded citizens. Values that allow children to handle themselves as maturely and competently as any adult could ever wish.
This is the vision that we carry with us as we rebuild our lives and move forward from this moment.
Captain Chip Reynolds
Captain of the Replica Ship "Half Moon"
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