Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Patriot Day

Next Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the airborne attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and the downed United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  11 Sept 2001 was a day that few American adults will ever forget.  I'd wager that everybody you meet on the street could tell you exactly where they were when they first heard of the 9-11 attacks.

Me?  I was listening to the radio on my way to work, sitting at a stop light at the corner of 'A' street and Normal Blvd.  As the song finished, the DJ said, "The United States is facing terrorism on two fronts today..."

Many images of that morning have been ingrained in our minds over the years, and I'd like to share a few of the ones that have stuck with me for one reason or another. Click on any of the images for a larger version.

by Robert A. Cumins
Robert A. Cumins' image of the second plane approaching its target graced the cover of People Magazine.  While there were countless photos published of this subject from different angles, it is this silhouette that stuck with me from an artistic standpoint.  You can read Robert's account of the circumstances behind this shot here.

by Suzanne Plunkett / Associated Press

While this image itself isn't individually special to me, the image it portrays is one that really struck me when I witnessed the video on TV.  People who thought they were a safe distance from the flaming buildings suddenly found themselves sprinting in terror as the towers collapsed, sending a wall of dust and smoke roaring down the streets of Manhattan.

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Similarly, this cross formed by two pieces of structural steel from the fallen towers was found standing above the surrounding debris.  Many took this as a sign of encouragement through this ordeal.

by Yoni Brook

This black and white image of a firefighter working through the monstrous steel skeleton of a downed tower really underscored to me the size of the target.  It almost has an apocalyptic feel to it.  Yoni Brook has an impressive collection of touching images from 9-11.

by Peter Morgan / Reuters

On a similar vein, the American flag flying over the rubble, with part of the outer skeleton still standing, emphasized the heart and spirit of everyone who united together to rebound from this disaster.

by Thomas E. Franklin / The Record

Combining the themes of the previous two images, and stealing shamelessly from Joe Rosenthal's famous WWII photo from Iwo Jima, this image also reminds me of how this event drew us together as a country.  Cliche?  Yes, but inspiring nonetheless.  This image even found its way onto a US postage stamp in 2002.  More of the backstory on this shot can be found on Wikipedia.

by Joe McNally

In response to the heroism demonstrated that day, renowned photographer Joe McNally created a series of very large format images -- life size Polaroids -- of some of the unsung heroes from 9/11.  The collection, entitled "Faces of Ground Zero," was on display for a while after the event, then sat in storage for years afterward.  It is on display again in NYC's Time Warner Center through 12 Sept 2011.

by Gregory Heisler

Time Magazine honored New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as their "Person of the Year" for the poise he exhibited in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.  The magazine cover photo was shot by lighting guru and Profoto poster boy Gregory Heisler, who later explained how he took the shot in this YouTube video.

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The spring following the attacks, the event was commemorated with spotlights creating two giant columns of light emanating up from where the original twin towers once stood.  This lighting ceremony, entitled "Tribute in Light," has been repeated many times since, generally on the anniversary of the attacks, but it is this first version, pictured here, that sticks in my head, because the event was still fresh in all of our minds when I first saw this image.

So there you have it:  my little collection of photographic memories of this great tragedy.  I won't try to write anything terribly moving; countless others are already doing that.  If you have any other memories you'd like to share or different images from the WTC or Pentagon attacks that have stuck with you, please share them in the comment section below.

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