Sixteen years ago, today, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists turned passenger filled airliners into flying bombs they used to attack the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A fourth hijacked jet was crashed by its passengers into a field in Shanksville, PA rather than let it strike another innocent target. Almost two decades later, One Freedom Tower has risen from the ashes to take its place near where the original towers stood. In their place are two memorial waterfalls that surround the footprints of the original North and South Towers. The stone comprising the monuments bear the names of all who died that day in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
From the ashes…
For those of us who, all those years ago, watched our televisions in horrified fascination as the Towers smoked, burned and fell; the memories are vivid. Unforgettable. The youngest among us know something terrible happened on the day that is eponymous with an emergency call for help: 9-1-1. For all of us alive during this unspeakable attack on us on the U.S. and the citizens of the world who worked and perished, the memories will be with us. Always. For those who are too young to remember, for those yet to be born, the fountains and the 9/11 Memorial Museum stand along with Freedom Tower, and the Oculus at its base to bear witness for them.
I live in Atlanta, Georgia which holds the singular distinction as being the only city completely destroyed by war (except for a very few churches downtown by the state capitol which remain standing today.) The strength of a country of immigrants is the passion brought to rebuilding after destruction by enemies or by mother nature. As I write this, I’m thinking of the victims and devastation in both Houston and Florida brought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively during the last few days. We rebuilt after 9/11. We rebuilt after Katrina and Sandy. We will rebuild in Texas and Florida. It’s what we do. No matter what.
All photographs by Kevin Ames. ©Kevin Ames