National 9/11 Memorial and Museum,  New York, New York

9-11 Muesum

It was a glorious blue sky New York day when I visited the Memorial in December, just as it had been on September 11, 2001. You cannot walk this sacred ground to the Twin Towers Memorial Pool and view the inscribed names of those lost in the terrifying events without remembering of that horrific day.

Memorial pools






The museum is located next to the recently completed One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower)

Freedom Tower



and the Oculus Shopping Area. Both of these buildings symbolize the endurance and tenacity of New Yorkers.

The 9-11 memorial opened ten years after the attack and the museum opened on May 15, 2014.

Beginning our tour, my friend and I viewed a film that chronicled the events of the attack and the eight months of debris removal following the tragedy. The flag that was raised by the firemen over the site is displayed just outside the theater. There you can read the story behind the search for the flag that was lost for years.

The flag that flew over the site






Heading down the escalator, we moved past the Tridents, massive beams that were removed from the site and you are walking through the massive basement area where the towers stood.

Tridents from below

Down a darkened corridor, you hear the voices of survivors relating their stories of that terrible day that had began as a lovely September morning.

Beginning the tour








Septemeber 11, 2001

Pictures of the tower before the event and immediately after surround you as your path spirals downward and you reach the bottom floor of the museum. Standing tall is the last beam removed from the site. It is covered in memorials to those individuals who worked on the site cleanup.


Moving down an escalator, you notice a concrete staircase next to you. This is the “survivor’s staircase”, where many escaped the plaza before the towers collapsed. This was the first artifact to be installed due to its weight.

Survivors Staircase

At the bottom of staircase, I stopped to listen to a docent as he was giving a talk to a small group of visitors. Afterwards I learned he had been a firefighter on the site on the day.  “This is my way of giving back”, he told me. It surprised me that he could so easily relate his experience but everyone finds a way to deal with tragedy.


Cell tower


Viewing the remnants of the massive cell tower that sat atop the tower was daunting.  The fire trucks that were partially collapsed reminded you how fragile seemingly strong machines can be.

The final beam removed from the site

Entering the center of the exhibit, a thirty-six foot long, sixty ton beam dominates the room.  Here, there are many artifacts here to view.

Twisted beam after the tower collaspe

Twisted iron beams that were crushed under the weight of a collapsing building, items used by the crews to dig for survivors.


A single window that survived the towers collaspe

A single glass window from the towers that survived the epic destruction, intact is remarkable.

The interior museum within the museum is where emotions begin to tell the story. No photographs allowed here due to the very personal nature of the artifacts. For me, the most striking exhibit is the Flight 93 voice recordings presented in real time. It is difficult to hear as those men and women knew they would not survive but did everything in their power to stop the attack. They are true heroes. You cannot leave the area without being emotionally moved.

After the attacks

Much has been and will be written about 9-11, the causes and aftermath and you learn about both here. From the rise of terrorism around the world, previous attacks and the steps taken to try and resolve the conflicts. Your emotions will range from grief, pain and anger to pride and love. You will not forget a visit to this scared ground.

We can only pray that an event like this never happens again.

Tickets for the museum can be purchased online for timed entry to this unique and meaningful memorial.

Mobile Medical Museum Mobile, AL

Mobile Medical Museum

The Mobile Medical Museum at 1664 Springhill Avenue is housed in the Vincent-Doan-Walsh house. This house is the oldest privately owned home from the 1800’s that still stands in Mobile and has been the site of the museum since 2003. The Medical Museum was founded in 1962 by Dr. Samuel Eichold, II.

Daryn P. Glassbrook, PhD, Executive Director of the museum gave me a guided tour of this fascinating place. Tours are available by appointment. The museum welcomes approximately eleven hundred visitors each year which is significant for this specialized museum.

Orbit, Explorations of the Eye

The temporary exhibit, “Orbit, Explorations of the Eye”, covering the centuries of ophthalmological practices began our tour. Entering the main gallery area, I was introduced to Howard the Leach, he harkens back to the very early days of medicine when blood-letting was thought to be a cure for some illnesses.



Moving onto Mobile’s medical past, we discussed Dr. Josiah Knott’s role in determining the cause of the yellow fever outbreak. I also learned about the formation of the Medical College of Alabama, founded in 1859 that would become Knott’s legacy.

Main Gallery

Two large anatomical models, pre-dating the Civil War, one illustrating the Lymphatic system and one the Nervous system, dominate the main exhibit room. These models were most likely used for teaching at the Medical College.  These colorful displays were brought over from Europe and how they survived the Civil War occupation is a mystery.



J. Marion Sims, the father of gynecology, has an unequalled story in the history of medical practice. Sims is responsible for the invention of several pieces of gynecological equipment but does have a less than stellar reputation. It is said that while treating his female patients, many of whom where female slave in the 1840’s, he did not use anesthesia during their treatment. Many thanks to those women who endured so much to help those who have benefited from the treatments he pioneered.

William Rankin, an engineer and physicist was responsible for developing the first x-ray to be produced using cathode tubes in 1913. His first x-ray was that of his wife’s hand. He is considered the father of diagnostic radiology and was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Physics.


You would think you’d find skeletons in a medical museum. Here there are two both of which date back about 120 years. Both are of Asian heritage. They also have several human skulls that are used as teaching tools.

Iron Lung

In the rear gallery of the museum is an Iron Lung which was used between the 1930s and 1950s during the polio epidemic. Although helpful in the patient’s treatment, it could not have been a comfortable experience to have been contained in one of these



Iron Lung Treatment area


Heart Lung Machine

Alongside the Iron Lung is a Heart Lung machine that was used in the process of heart transplants. You can learn how both of these machines contribution to life saving procedures.




In the garden, the museum is awaiting on installation of three new sculptures. An herb garden is featured where traditional medicinal herbs are grown.

The Mobile Medical Museum is a small unique museum with countless stories to tell. I encourage everyone to seek this out the museum to learn the stories of Mobile’s rich medical past. This museum adds a distinctive flavor to Mobile’s own unique history.

The Queen Mary and Churchill’s Finest Hours Exhibit Long Beach, CA

Queen Mary

I had the pleasure of attending the 50th anniversary celebration of the RMS Queen Mary’s arrival in Long Beach Harbor in December, 2017.  The ship was bought by the City of Long Beach, CA in 1967 and was opened to tourists in May, 1971.

50th anniversary of the arrival of the Queen Mary in Long Beach

It stands now as a museum, hotel and a wedding venue and a testament to history.

The anniversary coincided with the opening for Churchill’s Finest Hours Exhibit and on the heels of the release of the Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.

Jeanne Churchill and Laurence Geller open the Finest Hours exhibit
Their Finest Hours

This exhibit is similar to the Churchill war rooms in London, which provides a look inside the government rooms that were used in London during World War II.  Jeanne Churchill, the great-grand daughter of Churchill cut the ribbon to open the exhibit.


International Churchill Society held its annual meeting on the day of the opening.  Churchill made six  voyages on the Queen Mary and he always occupied the stateroom M-119, now known as the Churchill Suite.

One of Winston’s favortie spot’s on board the Queen Mary

The Queen Mary sailed from 1936-1967 for the Cunard Line until she passed the flagship status in 1946 to RMS Queen Elizabeth. The Cunard line dominated transatlantic service until the 1950’s when airplanes could make the transatlantic flight.

The ship played an important role in World War II for Britain. She was taken out of passenger service in 1940 to become a troop ship and was called the Grey Ghost due to her new paint job and her speed at crossing the Atlantic.  Hitler had bounty on the ship due to her speed, clocked at 23 ½ knots. She was the fastest ship at sea until 1952 when beaten by USS United States.  Some 800,000 troops sailed on her during WW2 of course it was not in the luxury accommodation her previous guests knew.  In 1947, she was restored to luxury passenger service.

In the late 1940’s and 50’s, the Queen Mary was the height of luxury travel for the movers and shakers of Hollywood and politics.  She had a crew of 500 and 347 passenger cabins.  Both Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth attended the children’s nursery.  There were three smoking lounges, two pools and an exercise room. Onboard entertainment was also first class as many entertainers performed while onboard. Liberace performed for the passengers and the performances were broadcast throughout the ship for all to enjoy.

The Promenade
The Observation Bar

The City of Long Beach paid three and half million in 1967 for the ship and some seventy million was spent to convert ship to a museum and then hotel by Long Beach. A large majority of the money was spent on the removal of engines and boilers.  Today, the ship serves as a museum, hotel with 346 hotel rooms with nine suites and a wedding venue.  The Great Lady attracts some 1.5 million visitors annually to honor this significant floating piece of history.

Exceptional onboard tours are available daily and you will have an enjoyable day aboard the Great Lady. We were given an excellent historical tour of the ship by tour guide, Kelly.

Kelly, our tour guide explaining the wood used on the Queen Mary

She was well versed and provided us with an in depth overview of the ship.

Downtown Long Beach

There are also several restaurants available in all price ranges or you can enjoy a stay at the hotel for a true taste of history.

50th Annivesary ice sculpture





That evening we attended the invitation only Queen Mary 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Churchill Society Party and opening of the Churchill exhibit on the fantail of the ship.

Laurence S. Geller CBE, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Churchill Society with Jeanne Churchill

The City of Long Beach purchased The Queen Mary ocean liner in 1967 and it came to its berth in Long Beach Harbor on December 9, 1967. The liner’s final voyage crossed the world to reach its new home. A flotilla of commercial and private boats welcomed the Great Lady to her new home.

Commodore Everette Hoarde toasts the Queen

If you are in Southern California take time to visit this iconic piece of history.  It will be a treat you will never forget.

FDR’s Presidential Library, Hyde Park, New York

FDR Presidentlal Libary

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Presidential Library System in 1939 to serve as a repository for the documents of his administration. The library opened in 1941. Roosevelt stated that “. . . a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”

Today, the library campus which sits beside the Hudson River is maintained by the National Park Service. It is located an hour and forty-five minutes drive from New York City and comprised of five areas: the Hyde Park residence “Springwood”, stables, garden, library/museum and welcome center for visitors.

Vistors Center

Your Ranger led tour begins in the Welcome Center standing around a large inlaid map of the surrounding New York area.

Vistor Center floor that traces the Roosevlet history

This map assists visitors in learning about the history of the area. The Roosevelt family had been in the New York region since the 1600’s. With an overview of the family legacy, you then board a tram or walk to Springwood, the Hyde Park residence.


Springwood is the house where Franklin was born and raised. Springwood was never owned by FDR, it was inherited by his mother, Sarah, and she ruled the roost. That was something that Eleanor came to know all too well. The house had electrical power in 1908 and was enlarged in 1915 adding two wings to accommodate the growing size of the family. He was in residence some two hundred times during his four presidential terms, giving it the name the “Summer White House”. Springwood is as it was when Roosevelt died at age sixty-three in 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.  Each item in the home is authentic and boosts a large collection of bird specimens as well as naval art.  The bell that was rung to alert everyone that it was time for dinner is a four hundred year old Tibetan bell.

Young FDR

Franklin was born is 1882.  He loved sailing, collecting Navy memorabilia and he wanted to attend Annapolis, but instead would graduate from Harvard and follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt.  FDR married Eleanor in 1905. They had four sons and a daughter. He was nominated for Vice President in 1920 but was defeated by Calvin Coolidge. He began his political career with his election to the state senate in 1910.  Franklin was stricken with polio in 1921 at age thirty-nine after a visit to a Boy Scout camp in Canada, Campobello. Eleanor stayed by his side during his illness. He visited Warm Springs Georgia in 1927 which was known for its hot springs and boasted cures for polio and would go on to found the Georgia Warm Springs foundation therapy center for polio victims. He also purchased property in Warm Springs which would serve as his “Little White House”. See my companion post on Warm Springs: Franklin closely guarded the fact of his paralysis from polio. He requested that the press not photograph him in a wheelchair because he knew that the county would not elect someone in a wheelchair.  While this was most likely the biggest open secret in the world, the press honored the request and did not publish photographs of the President in a wheelchair. In fact, the library only has 4 photographs of the FDR in a wheelchair.

Franklin was elected Governor of New York in 1928 then went on to be elected President in 1932 and would go on to be our longest servicing president, four terms, until his death in 1945.

FDR’s bedroon at Hyde Park

His rooms at the estate consisted of a bedroom, dressing room and a sleeping porch with views of the Hudson. Eleanor’s room was adjacent to his.



Eleanor’s desk and room next to FDR’s
Overlooking the Hudson River




The President hosted King George VI at Springwood in 1936. Franklin’s mother was aghast as the King viewed the many British political cartoons that the decorated the walls of the residence.  He remarked of the cartoon collection, “…you have some that I don’t have in mine.”  It was during this same visit that the King was photographed eating a hotdog at a picnic. That caused quite a stir in the press.  How could the President serve the King of England a hot dog!

The stables at Springwood were built by Franklin’s father, James, because of his interest in horse breeding. Eleanor housed prize winning horses there as well.

Stable and Gardens at Hyde Park

The gardens are located just behind the museum and serves as both Franklin and Eleanor’s final resting place.  Franklin is interred in front of the grave marker. Eleanor is buried next to Franklin.  His precious prized dog, Fala was also placed near them.

Roosevelt’s Gravesite

The Presidential Museum is located between the home and the welcome center. The stone façade building was designed by Franklin as an archive for his presidential documents.

Presidential Archives







It has two floors of exhibits and artifacts from both of the Roosevelt’s careers. The permanent collection boasts his presidential desk and numerous other artifacts from both Franklin and Eleanor’s careers.

FDR’s Campaign Hat






Eleanor is well represented in the museum with a display of some of her twenty-seven books, her typewriter and the suitcase that she carried around the world.

A selection of books by Eleanor





While the Roosevelt’s were a well matched political duo, Eleanor did not seek the political life. In 1918, she discovered that Franklin had an affair with Lucy Mercer. She said of the discovery, “The bottom dropped out of my own particular world…,” The couple remained married most likely because Franklin’s mother and other aids believed that a divorce would have been be political suicide.  Both Franklin and Eleanor’s legacies of inclusion endure today.

Elennor and Franlkin greet you at the Visitors Center

The library  hosted its 75th anniversary in July.

FDR’s Little White House

FDR Museum

Ensconced in the tall pines of Southwest Georgia in Warm Springs, Georgia is Franklin Roosevelt’s Little White house. The President purchased the land in 1926 after having been afflicted with polio in August, 1921. This occurred just after his first run for national office as vice president. He believed the mineral hot springs could help heal polio and wheree he would ultimately  create  the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

Little White House

The Little White House  is small and intimate comprised of only six rooms. Today, it is truly a place that has captured a moment in time. Little, if anything, has changed at the house since his death in April, 1945.  The space is simple and functional and does not have any of the opulence of Hyde Park. See my companion post regarding Hyde Park:  Roosevelt could be himself there while serving as President.  He developed some facets of his New Deal here, specifically the Rural Electrification Administration which helped bring electricity to rural areas.  Both domestic and international guests were hosted during his time there.

View from the Little White House porch

Cocktails were served on the patio overlooking the pine forest on the back of the house. There are two smaller houses just in front of the Little White House where his cook and housekeeperlived or could be used as guest quarters.

Your tour of the complex begins with a twelve minute film about Roosevelt’s time spent in Georgia.  Ultimately, he would reside at the Little White House forty-one times during his years as president.  The museum holds numerous artifacts regarding FDR’s time spent in Georgia. The swimsuit he wore while swimming in the hot springs pools, his precious dog, Fala’s collars and the many decorated canes that FDR received as gifts.

The orginal site of the Little White House museum

The museum was originally opened in 1948 at the home of his neighbor, Georgia Wilkins.  The Wilkins home is now used for conferences at the museum.  The path to the original museum is lined with flags and native rocks  from each state.

The State walk





During FDR’s time at the Little White House, he used two hand control cars to drive throughout the roads of Georgia.  It was during these interactions with the public that he determined that the rural areas of the country needed electricity and he made it part of his new deal.  FDR’s interaction with other polio victims, he helped found the March of Dimes to raise money for polio patients.

One of FDR’s hand driven cars







FDR was in Warm Springs for rest and meetings with two international representatives in April, 1945. He was also having his portrait painted by Elizabeth Shoumatoff.

Madame Shoumatoff


While sitting for the portrait he suffered a massive stroke on April 12, 1945 and died shortly thereafter.  While the  portrait remains unfinished, Shoumatoff did create paint another portrait from her sketches done on that April day.

The completed portrait hangs beside the unfinished one at the Little White House.

The completed last potrait

The President was taken back to New York via train. He was buried at Springwood in Hyde Park. The people of Warm Springs had lost a true friend.

THe timeline of FDR’s death





Nearby Pine Mountain State Park pays tribute to  FDR with a statue overlooking the mountain. This monument to the President is located where FDR would go to picnic and mull the issues of the world. He visited there the day before he died.

Pine Mountain Statue of FDR

Comprisive ninty minute guided tours are available on Saturdays at 9:30am. The guided tour is highly recommended for an in depth look at the complex.

Little White House Welcome Center

The site is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and welcomes in access of one hundred thousand visitors each year.