by Brien Szabo
Photographing the various tributes honoring the victims of 9-11 is highly moving. I photographed the Tribute Lights streaming from lower Manhattan on the second, fifth and tenth anniversaries of that tragic event. It wasn’t until just prior to the tenth anniversary that I became aware of all of the other tribute sites that various towns have set up all over the region. I have been able to visit many of those sites in New Jersey over the last few years. They range in size from modest to larger than I had anticipated – all moving and beautiful in their own way.
Though I was not personally touched by the events of that day, I certainly recall it vividly. My wife Karen worked downtown and was on her way in when her train – next stop World Trade Center Plaza – was stopped and rerouted. It would be hours before I found out she was OK. I also remember talking to my father on the phone about the events unfolding. While speaking to him, I watched the first tower fall. I remember his disbelief, saying it couldn’t just fall, while in fact it did.
As we all know, from that day forward, things in this country have not been the same. We don’t travel the same. We have to think and pack differently when we fly. Our knee jerk reaction to any tragedy involving an explosion is, “Was it a terrorist attack?” Who hasn’t imagined a tragic event possibly occurring upon entering a large city or popular event? The mindset has shifted, especially for those who vividly remember that terrible day. It’s sad to acknowledge such a thing happening in this country but no one can deny there was a pre-9-11 way of thinking, and now there is a post-9-11 way of thinking.
The images I share with you are just a few samples of the many images I’ve created over the years in honor of those who innocently lost their lives on that horrible day. I’ve tried several approaches to write something moving about 9-11 to accompany these pictures, but everything I have written reads flat. I think sometimes moments as tragic as these are best expressed with poetry, as when Ronald Reagan so eloquently referenced John Gillespie Magee, Jr.s’ poem, High Flight, as part of his speech following the shuttle Columbia disaster. Poetry has a resonance and rhythm better suited to express the depths of despair, joy, pain, and love for which prose is not always built. And since I am no poet, all I can offer are my images. I hope they are worthy of those whose lives are no longer with us, but whose souls will always be cherished in our hearts and minds.
Brien Szabo is a professional writer, speaker, and photographer, specializing in nature and travel. He has written for Nature Photographer Magazine and has been a contributor to webzines – NatureScapes.net and PhotoMigrations.com. His work and writings have appeared in magazines, books, calendars, commercials and other media. Closer to home, he has published with NJ Monthly, Adirondack Life, Running Press, and Down the Shore Publishing. Brien teaches several photography workshops and classes in the Somerset and Middlesex county area. To view more of Brien’s work, please visit http://natureimages321.com. Other published articles on Cadigan Creative’s site include The Creative Moment.
World Trade Center Memorial, New York, NY
Tower of Remembrance Memorial in Stirling, NJ
World Trade Center Memorial Gardens in Middletown, NJ
Tear Drop Memorial in Bayonne, NJ
Patriot Park in Springfield, NJ
Top of the World Drive in Green Brook, NJ
I am honored to publish this photo essay in loving memory of my cousin, Paul Battaglia, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.