Voices From Behind the Lens - Ground Zero

Billy Suratt:
A bulletin came on the radio about a community-wide service getting ready to start on the square in Glasgow, KY, about 45 minutes away, so I decided to head over and check it out. These women clutched candles and lighters, wore crosses and red-white-and-blue-ribbons. They prayed for our country and for countless victims of terror they'll never even know. The youngest fought back tears. It was a very moving scene in a place far removed from the chaos of Ground Zero, but connected nonetheless.

I grabbed one last parting shot on the way back to my car: three anonymous, almost ghostly, mourners, still carrying lit, glowing candles as they left the square. Their heads were slightly bowed, their step less than lively. The faceless cowards who wrought havoc in our land on Sept. 11, 2001 are still in hiding. They may have brought down our tallest buildings and killed thousands of innocent people, but their primary mission failed and they know it. They failed because the torches of liberty carried in the hearts, minds and souls of all Americans still burn on.

David Swanson, The Philadelphia Inquirer:
What I remember was the quiet. Hands raised, diesel engines would flutter to a stop, and for a minute, ground zero was as quiet as a church. However, no voices were heard in the grotesque pile.


Allan Tannenbaum:
All hell broke loose as the first building collapsed. I found myself on Broadway, with my back to the wall of an office building. The sound was indescribable and suddenly huge clouds of black smoke came billowing out of the side streets just like a sci-fi movie. I started to run but was overtaken by a swirling rain of suffocating ash. I couldn't see a thing so I stood still, put my bandana over my nose and mouth, and prayed. I could taste the ash, which had dried out my throat, and I resolved to not die here today. It became completely silent and dark, and I remember thinking that this is how the world ends.

Emile Wamsteker, freelance photojouranlist:
The original intention of Union Square was to a establish a place where people could talk about the issues of the day, debate, and philosophize. On this day, people were taking a step back in time, and using the square for just that. This event had impacted their lives in such a powerful way that it wasn't enough to just passively watch it on television and see it in the newspapers. People felt compelled to get in touch with each other in a forum. It was amazing to see life go on in such a routine way after such a devastating event. I was astonished to see people going on and dealing with their fears. Human beings have this built in inertia called the human spirit, that just keeps them going no matter what the circumstances.

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