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Former NYPD Officer Looks Forward To 9/11 Exhibit At Field Museum

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(credit: fieldmuseum.org)

(credit: fieldmuseum.org)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A former New York police commanding officer says there is a “really, really close bond” between his department and Chicago Police, as he and his wife prepare to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with their Field Museum exhibit.

The traveling exhibit, “Ground Zero 360,” opens at the Field Museum of Natural History on Friday. It will be free with basic museum admission, and will run for the rest of the year.

Former NYPD Officer Paul McCormack pointed out to the Sun-Times that in particular, he remembered the checkered uniform hats worn by Chicago Police officers directing traffic in lower Manhattan in the days after the attacks.

“It was a great, great feeling,” McCormack said. “I think the people of America came together. I never felt more American than after Ground Zero.”

McCormack and his wife, Nicola McClean, a photojournalist, knew they wanted to take what they had seen on Sept. 11 and the days that followed to other parts of the country and world. So they developed the “Ground Zero 360” exhibit with the help of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The exhibit features 81 of McClean’s photographs of the aftermath as well as the uniforms of a New York firefighter and police officer who died in Sept. 11, pieces of steel and granite wreckage from the World Trade Center that visitors can touch and audio recordings of police officers working in New York that day.

Chicago was the natural starting point for the exhibit, McCormack told the Sun-Times. There are many memorials planned for New York on the 10th anniversary. They believed that those outside of New York on Sept. 11 were deeply moved and also want to commemorate what happened.

“We love Chicago, my wife and I,” McCormack said. “There is a really, really close bond between the New York Police Department and the Chicago Police Department. Chicago was our first choice, and we’re very, very honored to be here.”

Janet Hong, the museum’s project manager for exhibitions, said while the Field is known for dinosaurs and fossils, it’s a museum of anthropology as much as a museum of natural sciences.

“We’re very interested in the commonalities of human cultures,” she said.

Field officials were immediately interested when contacted by McCormack a year ago, Hong said. The exhibit is on the second floor next to the Maori meeting house, a museum space reserved for discussions about community concerns.

The space also features windows that look to the west, something she believes resonates with the exhibit.

“You see the Sears Tower and the Loop,” she said. “It’s very powerful to look at what happened in New York and refresh your eyes and think about our city, our beautiful city.”

Visitors to the exhibit will also have the opportunity to share their own thoughts and memories of that horrific day.

The Chicago Sun-Times Kara Spak contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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