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9/11 remembered

The history of VII Photo Agency is inextricably linked to the attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. VII was created on September 9, 2001. Two days later, VII was photographing the twin towers crashing to the ground in New York City. As the 10-year anniversary of the attacks approaches, the photographers of VII remain committed to covering the broader conflict — in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and elsewhere — and the political, social and economic turmoil it has unleashed worldwide.

In this photo slideshow, VII’s photojournalists take us back to the days following September 11, 2001, before the global war on terror began to unfold. In a series of simple and somber images, they present vivid scenes of Americans grappling with the aftermath of the attacks in New York City.

View the photos at VII Magazine.



  • Mdonohue1

    I love your show but I had to send you my 911 and how I feel.
    I had to spew this out and so I sent it to some of the people I value. 
    9/11 you won’t find me with any flag flying anywhere.  This should be a day of mourning and I want silence and Beethoven’s Eroica playing on my stereo while I try to avoid the noise of the stupid war jets flying overhead.
    9/11 changed me – it changed my country.  I lost hope for any sort of sanity or return to what American life was meant to be.
    It was something that could have been stopped and wasn’t.  The two days after the attack Kenny and I watched out my window as the ferry pulled in again and again and ambulances dropped bodies wrapped in big black plastic bags on the grassy ballpark beneath my windows to be shipped away to some morgue.
    The jets flew morning and nights.  I didn’t know where half my friends were for weeks.  Some of my friends were told that the air quality was fine and that if they didn’t come back to work at Chase they would be fired as Whitman & Giuliani both stated the air quality was fine.  One is dead now and the other has asthma. 
    You know the Trade Center was rushed up 6 months before the asbestos law kicked in (deliberately to avoid the extra cost) and the air was full of asbestos.
    One friend of mine was working on the 77th floor of Tower 1 when the plane hit Tower II. The building shook and he who is a rather powerful character and manager screamed for all his employees on his floor to ‘GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE NOW!!!!” 
    Some of his workers hesitated as the PA system was saying for everyone to stay at their desks and the situation was under control.  That PA voice resounded through all the stairs for the employees who started to descend and some of them went back upstairs. But Stanton told his employees they were to leave and he is proud that none of his employees died that day.
    He told me he went to the mailroom to check to see all the mail people were out and that’s when the second plane hit his building only a couple of floors above(it hit sideways) The whole building shook and the noise was ear shattering.  I asked him what happened then – what was it like?
    “Like some horror movie,” he told me.  “A ball of flame exploded at the back of the hall and came rushing towards me as I hit the exit door to the staircase (luckily still functioning) and I just kept running down until I hit the street.  15 minutes later while I was still running in the street I turned and saw my building collapse.”
    This was on a Tuesday when I was student teaching at a school that overlooks the harbor and the trade center.  We were notified as soon as the first plane hit by a parent who called in (he worked for the government). The kids started screaming and running and I said, “Omigod it’s Osama – he’s back!!!!  Who the hell is minding the store!!?”  (Most of their parents and relatives worked in the downtown area – many were killed.)
    At that time I was remanded by my supervisor who reminded me of Timothy McVeigh. I told her straight out, “I knew that nut was our own crazy but only Osama Bin Laden has the means, money and organization to do this.” 
    I was met with a lot of anger by a few Muslim students but I stood my ground.  I had felt for a long time Bush wanted to go into the Middle East to finish his father’s job and his whole cabinet were oil people.  I knew they had stopped monitoring Osama’s movements as unnecessary.
    I went home seeing the flames and smoke across the way harbor and the empty space full of smoke I where I had just photographed buildings across the way and visible from my building.  I wept in terror for the people there across the water many of them my neighbors and co-workers. I felt sort of terror that maybe this was what Bush was waiting for to have us go to war with Iraq (I don’t think his people planned this terror attack but felt they had been lax because they needed and excuse to go into the Middle East.) 
    But, I comforted myself; these people are from Afghanistan, not Iraqi so I’m probably just being paranoid. Iraq has nothing to do with this.  Yes it’s true probably none of my teen-age students would know the difference between the two countries but older Americans, even if they didn’t get the world studies they needed still watched the news.  They would know the difference.  Still I couldn’t sleep.
    Kenny & I ran away that weekend to a motel in New Jersey where we didn’t have to look out the windows and see the constant ferries bringing in mysterious vehicles and see the billowing smoke & laser lights across the way.  He got drunk and slept while I stayed awake because the sound of the waves on the beach reminded me of the jets overhead (I get sick these days when they come and can’t go to any air show.)
    Monday I had to go into the city to get the train to Columbia University classes for my last semester in K-12.  As I got off the ferry downtown to get the uptown trains to school the smell of burning rotting flesh hit me.  There were tanks and soldiers with machine guns and heartbreaking pictures all over the walls of relatives missing with pleas from family to call them if they were seen.
    I had to walk almost 20 blocks up to Fulton Street on the East Side and the West Side was closed off.  The smell and noise was terrible.  I had to do this twice a week at night and spent a lot of time crying.
    Then it got quiet.  I was sicker and deciding to replace my right knee.  The WTC was now a huge tourist area and strangers came and went and used it to foment hatred.  I finished my last semester but never put in for my credit I was so devastated by it all – not to mention the suspicion that I might not get well enough to work at all. The doctors were now admitting that the chronic inflammation and pain I had were probably part of a debilitating neuromuscular disease.  I can’t say what was bringing me down more – the WTC disaster or my own but they fed into each other and I felt sick every day. 
    Everything was still in chaos and now people were talking about a new war a war with a country we could never hold.  I am a Liberal but felt we needed to go to Afghanistan but not Iraq.  Everybody was wearing flag pins as we geared up into a super war mode.
    And then the tourists came descending upon my city an area I knew and loved and the vultures came – real estate people and no attention was paid to the first responders (my friend Kris who grew up with my kids was a policewoman – detective now – and she was there everyday picking up body parts.)  But the first responders are not invited to what I see as an obscene party this coming 9/11. 
    And Kris who is totally health conscious has asthma now and has been operated on for several pre-cancerous tumors.  She has not put in for any compensation and is a devoted Republican.  But she is angry as many of her friends have already died or are dying and the city is not settling even for their medical bills.
    The WTC was a monument to world greed almost empty (in contract to be sold to the Japanese at the event because half the office space was too small and expensive – bed design and losing money).
    When it was erected (by Rockefeller who was afraid that the center of corporate business was moving to midtown0 it was rushed and flushed its toilets straight into the Hudson River until a bunch of environmentalists made them stop (three years of fighting in court.).
    It was erected to greed, a red flag to maniacs who prey on the idea of American greed to feed their own greed for power, and is now feeding American greed and hatred.
    I will never get the smell of the bodies out of my nose, the pictures of the lost (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish) and the noise of the jets.  The whole thing makes me sick.  On the ball field below my window they are already gearing up for the 911 celebration/memorial.  On the grass where I watched the bodies laid on that day speakers will intone vapid speeches about how great America is.  A giant TV screen will blast the doings from across the water and the light from that screen will penetrate my windows.  I am already hearing God Bless American, American the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner sung at least three days a week (sometimes more than twice a day) by awful singers and hear the cheering at pre 911 gatherings.
    I will keep my windows closed, my flag draped.  I feel for the families of the dead but let’s get real.  The place should be a grassy graveyard with a huge non-denominational place of devotion erected. 

  • Earthquake31

    The World trade center attacks were all performed by secret police theater. Just like the Kennedy assn.