Chapman University’s Center for American War Letters has more than 175,000 correspondences, from every conflict in U.S. history, including missives penned during the Revolutionary War up to emails from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Every letter and email in our collection is special and unique,” says the center’s founding director, Andrew Carroll. “But one of the most powerful correspondences we have is a tear-stained, handwritten, eyewitness account by a woman named Anna Miller who was at Ground Zero on 9/11 and almost killed.”
Miller wrote the account for her family and loved ones just days after the terrorist attacks, and it includes a graphic, eyewitness chronicle of seeing bodies falling from the Twin Towers and the moment when Miller almost died when she was caught up in the wave of smoke and debris. A colleague put his jacket over her and got them both under a truck, saving her in the last moments as the buildings fell.
The letter is stained with tears, as Miller was sobbing as she reflected on what she had experienced. The full transcript was originally published in Carroll’s New York Times bestseller “Behind the Lines” (Scribner, 2005).
Carroll, a Presidential Fellow at Chapman, is also partnering with Peter Findler, the co-founder of the 9:57 Project on what they’re calling the United Again initiative to seek out 9/11-related emails and letters, like the one Miller wrote, to preserve in the center’s archive in Leatherby Libraries. Findler also wrote, with Carroll’s assistance, a series of lesson plans for high school educators called Lines of Fire.
The center still seeks correspondences from all American conflicts. Carroll can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.