Voices From Behind the Lens - Ground Zero

Rick Falco:
Over the last few days I have worked in a cloud of shock and disbelief, pale dust and smoke a constant companion. Today was a little different. One of my assignments was the Memorial Service at St. John the Divine. The service began with a solemn procession moving slowly down the aisle in the direction of the alter. As they moved, the smoke of incense rose into the air climbing toward the vaults of the cathedral ceiling. Again smoke. My heart froze for a moment. Enough, I thought. However, in that same instant the voices of the choir rose up. Beautiful and mighty, the sound surged upward surpassing the incense and reaching beyond the confines of the cathedral to something more infinite - more absolute. A momentary sigh of relief filled me. After watching another kind of smoke rise from the wreckage of the city, for the first time in days, I saw good instead of evil. I realized that even the shortest glimpse of good in times of adversity can plant a seed in which hope will rise.

Tom Franklin, Staff Photographer, The Record, Bergen County, NJ:
I have never fully aware of the power of photography until I made this photograph of three New York City Firemen raising the US flag atop the rubble that was the World Trade Center, I have received literally thousands of phone calls and hundreds of e-mails, mostly from strangers. From around the world people have told me how this photograph has touched them, and that has touched me. Some have told me about their lost loved ones, others about how they escaped certain death, and yet others just wanted to tell me how this one photograph gave them hope and optimism in the wake of this horrible tragedy. Although it has been hard for me to separate myself and my sudden notoriety from this picture, it has given me some comfort to know that in some small way I may have helped Americans get through this tragedy. And I am hoping that with the sales of this photo, we can help raise money for victims of this disaster. And that also speaks to me about the immense power of photojournalism. Peace.


Steven Frischling:
Monday, Sept. 11: I dropped my daughter off at a quiet and safe day care in Northampton, MA as the first reports of an aircraft into the World Trade Center came over the radio. Somehow I made it to the sidewalk beside New York City Hall between 9:10 AM and 11:59 AM. On the radio I heard of the collapse, but as a native New Yorker it did not sink in at all until I hit the Bronx and saw a massive plume of smoke, but figured some part of the building was under the smoke. As I made my way past 220 Broadway I looked to my right and was just horrified. I saw only a few floors of Tower 2 burning out of control, and under a cloud of dust a leg, nothing attached to it, just the leg. In the corner of my eye a child's backpack covered in ash.

The entire drive down I had no idea how bad it could be, and, the entire drive back on Tuesday, just wondering how it could have been that bad. Covered in ash and having yet to sleep or bathe I stopped by my daughter's day care to see her, and, since it was nap time, just to kiss her and look at her. I am so grateful that the destruction was not "here," but it still happened in my "home," and I am just devastated physically and emotionally. I do not think I will be sleeping for a while. I think the sounds and the smell will linger very much longer for me as I block the images from my mind.

Carmine Galasso, Staff Photographer, The Record, Bergen County, NJ:
I was horrified and angered on different levels. I'm a New Yorker. I was watching my city be bombed by terrorists. I felt we were let down by our intelligence. On a personal level, I had two cousins unaccounted for and didn't realize they were OK until the next day.

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