Friday, September 9, 2011

Life Magazine dubbs him The Saint of 9/11
Rescue workers carry mortally injured New York City Fire Department chaplain Mychal Judge from the wreckage after he was killed by falling debris while administering last rites to another victim. A Roman Catholic priest, a recovering alcoholic, a gay man, and -- as an FDNY chaplain a spiritual adviser and trusted friend to countless firefighters through the years -- "Father Mike" was the first recorded victim of the September 11 attacks. Photographer Shannon Stapleton's picture, which burns with immediacy and yet somehow feels composed, almost painterly, captures much of the day's intense incongruities in one sombre frame: the intimacy of witnessing a single death in the midst of a monumental catastrophe; brilliant sunlight shining on the chaplain's lifeless hands; devastated first responders shrugging off exhaustion, racing to the aid of helpless victims. Here is the best, and the very worst, of that day.

Photo: SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters /Landov

The Second Plane, South Tower, 9:03 AM

The South Tower of the World Trade Center explodes in flames after being hit by the hijacked airliner now universally known as "the second plane," United Airlines Flight 175, September 11, 2001. This photo -- with its black smoke; the shocking, brilliant, colossal flames; the cloudless sky; the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge flying the American flag -- captures so much of the story of the day that, if one were to create a composite picture to illustrate the idea of "9/11," the result might look very much like this astonishing shot.

Photo: STR/Reuters /Landov

Falling Man

In a scene repeated with terrifying frequency as flames engulfed the top of the towers, a man falls (or leaps, as was evidently the case with many victims) to his death from the World Trade Center. On the morning of September 11 photographer Richard Drew, in the midst of another assignment, got the call to drop everything and head to the World Trade Center. As soon as he arrived downtown he began shooting; later in the day, as as he processed what he had shot, he was especially struck by this photo -- and with reason. One of the most recognizable pictures made on 9/11, the image from a purely photographic perspective is breathtaking: the miniscule human form caught against the massive, abstract background of the towers is so obviously helpless, and doomed, that we're tempted to reach out our hands to try and cradle the tiny anonymous figure. And while Drew himself refuses to conjecture about the man's identity ("I prefer to think of him as a sort of Unknown Soldier," he told, it's impossible not to put ourselves in the falling man's place -- with all the dread and empathy that that sort of transference commands.

Photo: AP Photo/Richard Drew
Woman from iconic 9/11 photo overcomes decade of hardship

By Mike Krumboltz
The Upshot – Tue, Sep 6, 2011
Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

The attacks on 9/11 changed the lives of billions -- and few more so than Marcy Borders. Soon after the World Trade Center attacks, Borders was photographed covered in dust and ash from the fallout. The photo, taken by Stan Honda of AFP, was one of the iconic images from that terrible day.

Borders has been through a lot in the 10 years since. There have been problems with depression and substance abuse, as well as lingering nightmares about Sept. 11. She recently spoke with the New York Post about her life's ups and downs over the past decade.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Borders had been working at her new bank job for just a month. The planes hit the World Trade Center, and a panicked Borders left her desk on the 81st floor of the north tower to go out into the street to see what was happening.

Just as she got to the street, the south tower fell, and Borders couldn't see much of anything. "I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. The world went silent," she remarked. Eventually, someone pulled her into a building's lobby, where a photographer captured the haunting photo of her surrounded by harsh yellowish dust. According to the U.K.'s Telegraph, Borders still has the clothes she wore that day, "still unwashed and coated in the dust of the twin towers."

Marcy Borders with son Zay-den (Photo: Coleman-Rayner)

In her talk with the Post, Borders details some of the difficulties she's faced since then: "My life spiraled out of control. I didn't do a day's work in nearly 10 years, and by 2011 I was a complete mess. Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked. If I saw a man on a building, I was convinced he was going to shoot me."
This past April, she checked herself into rehab, after realizing that she would die if she stayed on her current path. A little more than a week later, she got the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces. The news, along with her new clean and sober lifestyle, did a lot to help silence her inner demons. "I used to lose sleep over him, have bad dreams about bin Laden bombing my house, but now I have peace of mind."

Firefighter's Gaze

An unidentified New York City fireman walks away from Ground Zero after the collapse of the towers. Photographer Anthony Correia told of this picture: "He just looked so exhausted, so beat up." Correia knelt down and took his shot as the man walked by. "I acknowledged him, and he acknowledged me. But he never stopped." The steady gaze, meanwhile, of this lone firefighter allows us a window into the experience of literally thousands of rescue workers and first responders. I was in there, his eyes seem to say. Be thankful that you can't imagine what I saw.

Photo: Anthony Correia/Getty Images

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