Capturing 9/11 Historically

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With the passing of yet another 911 anniversary I am always drawn to the day and the flood of emotions it created. For all of us there is “a” moment. The moment we heard, saw or felt the horror.  The moment we realized how fragile our lives are. The moment we realized how much we all meant to each other, how dependent we are on a stranger standing next to us, how unimportant most of our important STUFF wasn’t… At that moment the towers fell and world stood still.

I was trying to express in a simple blog all the emotions and “images” that still live vividly in my mind’s eye and in my heart.  Twenty-one years later, it’s still impossible.  What I can share is my impressions of how and why I am so proud to be in this profession and how working with my colleagues inspires me each and every day. To them I dedicate this writing.

Did you ever stop and think beyond the physical viewing of the thousands of images captured that day or how those images and stories have transformed our world? 

A day like any other day. 

A day without a pre-production meeting relating to the “event”. 

An event without a production call time.

A day just beginning like any other day, yet a day when thousands of images where captured and shared in an instant without the assist of a smartphone.

A day when our airwaves where cluttered with minute-by-minute accounts from the belly of beast. 

A day when the “Recorders of the Human Experience” rose from the thundering smoke and ash to follow and record the brave and heroic First Responders as they forfeited their lives to save the lives of perfect strangers.  

A day when these “Guardians of the Record” stood on the dark and bleak edge of what might have been the start of the apocalypse and remained there to capture this moment for all to understand its magnitude and mark its place in the human experience. 

A day when no one was directed or paid to capture.  

A day when you just DID and didn’t think “SHOULD I?”.

Who are these “Guardians”?

They are the professionals that make up the “entertainment” / production industry.

Camera operators, sound operators, writers, satellite truck operators, utility and technicians, news people, producers, editors and every and all who knew their calling was to stand their ground for as long as possible to enlighten a terrified humanity with words and images that defined the status of our fragile world. 

They were not sent they just went.  Were they there by chance or by some supreme plan? It didn’t matter, they were there and instinctively did what had to be done.

The identity of this Order and it’s brave and talented souls usually gets passed over by the enormity of the events they were capturing or recounting. They have been around since the beginnings of recorded history.  

They are the cave engravers who felt it necessary to tell future generations of the trials and tribulations of their days. Possibly, in an effort to have them avoid the woes of their time.

As you flash through history they remain anonymous but their stories live forever.  Whether these images are written, spoken or visual, their importance is immeasurable.  Their efforts do not let time diminish the impact of the human events they witnessed.  

Hopefully, we learn from their stories. We see what they saw and we understand.

I can tell you first hand that many do not choose to be in the center of a terrifying epicenter.  But when you find yourself there, you try and stay focused on your skills and do your part knowing the importance of your actions.

There are always the select few who weight the risks against the need and voluntarily make the choice.  

Both are valid, each clearly remarkable.

So, the next time you watch a WWII documentary series comprised of “actual” footage, read a journalistic account of a Civil War battle or the moment of liberation for a tortured nation, remember some brave Guardian was there capturing the moment for all of us. And most importantly enabling generations of “all of us” to learn and grow towards a better tomorrow.

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