This photo is of the discovered equipment of Bill Biggart, a photojournalist who lost his life on 9/11.
“From Ashes, We Build.” – 9/11 Tribute Painting by Sam Spratt
In 8th grade I was on a class trip about 3 blocks from The Pentagon. We were just getting back into the bus heading to our next DC landmark when a large shadow passed over us—seconds later a low booming crash in the distance, and a massive, unforgettable wave of heat passed through us. What followed was something of a silent blur of our teachers rushing us into the bus, radio speculation as to what was happening, and a class of 8th graders sitting unblinking having no idea what was going on. I was young and the significance of 9/11 was largely lost on me then—but you never forget the feeling of an explosion and the quiet that follows.
Fast forward to today: I wanted to pay tribute to September 11th in painted form showing the new construction of One World Trade Center, not just replacing the twin towers—but literally being built from the wreckage. 10 years later, I felt it necessary to acknowledge the importance of past tragedy in the pursuit of a better future: to remember lives lost while looking to save more, to remember fallen icons as we build new ones, and to remember our mistakes as we pursue perfection.
Rest In Peace to all of the victims directly or indirectly killed by the attacks and my heartfelt sympathies to those who lost loved ones through them.
It almost feels cliche to say September 11, 2001 was a breathtakingly beautiful day in New York City because it has been said countless times before. It was a perfect Autumn day. My day didn’t start off like my most. On September 10, 2001, I buried a beloved and cherished member of my family after a lengthy battle with a terminal disease. As I stepped onto the train bound for Lower Manhattan a little after eight in the morning the next day, hoping to put the worst day of my life behind me with a full day of work a welcome distraction from the emptiness, I remember thinking to myself, it is too beautiful a day to be this sad. I never imagined, however, that when I stepped out on to the street corner of Wall Street about fifty minutes later to the closest thing to hell on Earth I hope to ever witness, I was about to experience the worst day of my life.
After ten years, the memories are still as raw and as open as they ever were and yet I know I am among the lucky ones. I saw things and felt things that I will never forget. Sometimes, in my nightmares, I flashback to that instant when my office building shook and saw the dust cloud that was once North Tower of the World Trade Center come barreling straight down Wall Street, pushing up against my windows and realizing that I had just felt thousands of people die. Sometimes, it is the eerie silence after the second tower fell that haunts me most, as if the city itself could not find a sound to express what just happened. Other times, it is the long walk uptown towards the Manhattan Bridge that I remember most, seeing office workers who was caught in the dust clouds of the collapse trying desperately to get a clean breath. And realizing that I was breathing in dust and ash from what was once human beings. But mostly, it is smell is what haunts me most, a smell that would linger in Lower Manhattan for months as the fires on the pile still burned.
Beyond the human loss and as a born and bred New Yorker, I miss those buildings. Seeing them on the horizon after trips away from the city meant that I was almost home. They were a symbol of my home and they were torn away from me in an act of unspeakable violence and violation. Sometimes, in my mind, I go back to World Trade Center plaza, the Austin Tobin Plaza, and I go to one of my favorite spots, beyond the fountain and at the foot of those two massive towers. I look up and the building stretch up into the sky, beyond what my mind can conceive of as tall. Sometimes, I go back to the lobby of the World Trade Center, all gleaming glass, pristine, steel open space, perfect arches and those flags hanging over the second level. When I was a kid, I always thought, this is what living in the future would look like. None of this exists in reality anymore, only in my memory and that is, perhaps, the one thing I’ve never been able to grasp. Those buildings were here and now they are gone, like the world’s greatest magic trick. Where did they go? After all this time, I still think that if I blink hard enough and open my eyes, they will be there again.
Ten years on, as the country seems more divided and tattered than we’ve ever been over ideology and petty politics, I wish we would reflect more on what that day really taught us. I know when I was caught in the middle utter chaos, wondering if I was going to make it out of Lower Manhattan alive, my intital thoughts weren’t angry or hateful. My first thoughts weren’t about our differences, but how we were the same. We are in all in this together. Walking along the Manhattan Bridge, in silence and shock, we all had one goal, get home. Get home to the people we loved. Just get home. Those who died that day never got that chance and I know now that getting to come home is a gift.
(Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/Seth Wenig)
Seriously couldn’t imagine what was going on their heads when they had to make the choice between jumping or burning to death. It fucking saddens me to think that the last decision they made on earth was their choice on which way to die.
Just sit and think for a minute. JUST THINK. What would you do, if your senses were filled like this? If the walls were crumbling before your eyes. Fire everywhere. Smoke and fumes. Screams and sirens. You’re looking around for a way out but you know there is none. Imagine, your last choice on Earth was which way you would end your life. Imagine trying to call your wife, husband, child, mother, father, sister, brother, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend to tell them that you weren’t coming home. You would never see them again. Imagine. You see all of this. You sense all of this. Information overload. You decide to jump, because at least that way, you will have some sort of escape from the turmoil that put you in that position.
“As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11. What do you want me to say, seriously? Do you want me to say, “It was a great plan, mwahahaha!” before I fly off on a magic carpet?
I was born and raised in this country and was just as shocked as everyone else to learn there were people on this earth so vile as to commit such a horrific attack – or to even think about doing it. But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims. So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?
Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?”
An old promotional poster for the World Trade Center.
A firefighter stood at the National September 11th Memorial before this morning’s ceremony.
A visitor touched a name engraved on the edge of the memorial’s north fountain.
THE LOST Family members grieved at the National September 11 Memorial in New York City.
The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew, of a man falling from the North Tower of theWorld Trade Center at 9:41:15 a.m. during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The subject of the image — whose identity remains uncertain but is speculated as being that of Jonathan Briley, who worked in a top-floor restaurant — was one of the people trapped on the upper floors of the skyscraper who apparently chose to jump rather than die from the fire and smoke. As many as 200 people jumped to their deaths that day; there was no time to recover or identify those who were forced to jump prior to the collapse of the towers. Officially, all deaths in the attacks except those of the hijackers were ruled to be homicides (as opposed to suicides), and the New York City medical examiner’s office stated that it does not classify the people who fell to their deaths on September 11 as “jumpers”: “A ‘jumper’ is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing that they will commit suicide… These people were forced out by the smoke and flames or blown out.”
The photograph at right is somewhat deceptive, as it gives the impression that the man is falling straight down. However, this is just one of a dozen photographs of his fall, and in other photographs it is evident that he is tumbling through the air.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The Star-Ledger, published in Newark, New Jersey USA
Ten Years Later: A Tribute 9/11
My favorite 9/11 tribute in New York City can be found in Bryant Park. 2,819 empty chairs are set up on the lawn facing the site where the World Trade Center once stood, one chair for every life lost. The number of empty chairs captures the enormity of the lives lost and the stark emptiness of it just drives home the point that I hope is never forgotten. 2,819 people were here one moment and gone the next. 2,819 went to work or boarded a plane one morning ten years ago thinking it would be another ordinary day and they never came home.