“The Rest of the World Hears You”: 9/11 in Pictures

Beyond the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan, the towers burn and smoke together, their raging fires glowing red. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Christopher Sweet, ed., Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001 by the Photographers of the New York City Police Department (New York, NY: Viking Studio, 2002), p. 15.

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As the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 passes, only images of that moment in our nation’s story can suffice to bring to us the raw emotion of such an event.

That day, the cruel bite of circumstance stole from us an American innocence which was taken for granted in such an open, powerful, and welcoming society. Liberty, prosperity, and safety, we thought, were the norm; Communism had collapsed not a decade earlier, and the despots of World War II were only distant memories.

Who would dare attack us? A few; but who could do so and succeed?

For the moment, the people whom we had forgotten were a danger to us — that same jihād movement with which we, with genuine and finally successful intentions, had allied ourselves — brought us to our knees. 2,977 men, women, and children who only deserved their fate in the burning eyes of the Grand Jihād were murdered, and symbols of American pride reduced to rubble in a Vesuvian spectacle of terror.

The choice some made then, and which we all must make now, is whether to answer that  call to national maturity and face the most painful truth of all: that evil, bloodlust, tyranny, and violence are the normative state of being. But the hope which must guide rests with the courage and decency of the people who are faced with this challenge — succored by crosses which emerged from man’s twisted creations.

The forward move is to speak: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people… who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” said a defiant George Bush as he stood among the mountains of rubble. The rest of the world can hear the people who choose to stand tall and fight for a civilization, both under assault and the outlier of decency and freedom in a world where none else exists.

The story of 9/11 is the story of that civilization’s choice to fight or attempt a suicidal return to a moral innocence forever lost.

 

 

The Twin Towers as they should be remembered. (Bruce W. Ebner)
American Airlines Flight 11 — hijacked by the Egyptian Mohammed Atta and the Saudis Abdulaziz al-Umari, Wail al-Shehri, Walid al-Shehri, and Satam al-Suqami — reaches its final destination: the North Tower of the World Trade Center, instantly killing 92 — September 11, 2001. (Peter Cunningham / Mission Pictures via Getty Images)
The North Tower burns, viewed from the north. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Christopher Sweet, ed., Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001 by the Photographers of the New York City Police Department (New York, NY: Viking Studio, 2002), p. 12.
The North Tower burns, viewed from the south. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 12.
The moment of the second impact, as the South Tower erupts in fire, struck by Flight 175 (hijacked by Marwan al-Shehhi and Fayez Banihammad of the UAE, and Hamzah al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, Mohand al-Shehri of Saudi Arabia, instantly killing 65. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 10.
Firefighters work to put out the flames moments after a hijacked jetliner crashed into the Pentagon at approximately 0930 on September 11, 2001.
Rescue and removal teams search for survivors and clear debris from the gaping wound in the Pentagon — September 14, 2001. (Technical Sergeant Cedric H. Rudisill / United States Air Force)
The two towers burning from the north
The two burning towers from the north. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 14.
The towers burning from the south
Beyond the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan, the towers burn and smoke together, their raging fires glowing red. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 15.
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The two towers burn in the distraught sight of old New York’s symbol, the Empire State Building. (Marty Lederhandler / AP)
Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11 2001
Smoke pours from the towers’ wounds. (Craig Allen / Getty Images)
September 11 Retrospective
Looking from the north, both towers burn. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images)
The towers burn together
The towers burn together. (Aman Zafar)
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A man jumps to his death from above an impact zone, as if not to die by cruel circumstance by his own will; many that day did the same. (José Jiménez / Primera Hora via Getty Images)
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United States Secret Service agent Thomas Armas carries an injured woman over his shoulder to an ambulance in the dust of the South Tower’s collapse. (Thomas Monaster / New York Daily News via Getty Images)
The collapse of the North Tower
10:20 A.M.: The collapse of the North Tower resembled more the column of ash which had blasted from the mouth of Vesuvius so many centuries before — it, too burying its innocent victims as it descended. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 20.
Police officer Mike Brennan helps a distraught woman known o
Officer Mike Brennan helps a distraught woman, known only as Beverly, in the dust of the collapse of the North Tower at 10:28 A.M. (Corey Sipkin / New York Daily News via Getty Images)
Smoke engulfs all
The smoke of the towers’ destruction engulfs the financial capital of the United States beyond all recognition. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 26.
Black smoke enveloped the city
From above Governor’s Island, the smoke turned black, plunging a radiant, blue day into a hellish nuclear winter. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 32.
Clearing dust reveals ruins
As the dust clears from Ground Zero, the ghostly bones of the ruin rise from the rubble. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 40.
A lifeless skeleton
A lifeless skeleton still smokes as dust clears. (Detective Dave Fitzpatrick / NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 40.
Firefighters Raise A U.S. Flag At The Site Of The World Trade Center
Firefighters raise an American flag above Ground Zero. (The Record / Getty Images)
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A humble President George W. Bush speaks to rescue workers, firefighters, and police officers from the rubble of Ground Zero through the famous megaphone: “I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” were his defiant words — September 14, 2001. (Smith Collection / Gado via Getty Images)
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Rescue and removal teams search for survivors and clear debris from the gaping wound in the Pentagon — September 14, 2001. (Technical Sergeant Cedric H. Rudisill / United States Air Force)
A cross appears
A cross appears in the form a torn girder connection, as if the wreckage itself sought to remember those it buried — September 26, 2001. (NYPD) | Above Hallowed Ground, p. 97.

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