As stories aligned for this issue, themes of change, struggle and recovery emerged. In this business, we mostly deal in tragedy, and it sucks. Journalists are on the front lines of bad news, and as the headline reads in another story in this issue, it takes a toll on us.
I view the Openers/Enders pages of the magazine as an opportunity to provide visual relief when it’s needed. Because in the words of venerable Gordon Parks (1912-2006), “You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, I was about to send these pages to the printer when I noticed social media posts by David Handschuh, a first responder/photojournalist on that dreadful day 18 years ago. He gave me permission to publish his words and a recent photograph he made in New York, below.
David asks that we never forget, but he adds, poignantly, that we should also always remember. I couldn't agree more.
– Sue Morrow, Editor
Photo by David Handschuh
“I was walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park and spotted a unique perspective on lower Manhattan. I knew it was the place to photograph the Tribute in Lights on the upcoming evening of September 11. Less than a minute after I steadied the camera on a rock for a long exposure, the haunting glow of the blue lights became noticeable. When something like that happens, it makes you wonder about fate, karma or how you are sometimes in the right place at the right time.”
September 11, 2019
"Eighteen years ago this morning, I followed FDNY Rescue Company 1 to the World Trade Center. Several guys waved out the back of the rig as we were racing southbound in the northbound lane of traffic.
“These were firefighters and friends I had known for years. They were in their own hearse, going to their own funeral, but didn’t realize it at that moment.
“They were going to save lives, and they did that before losing their own lives two hours later.
"There were 3,000 good people murdered that morning, and people are still dying from the toxins in the air that day. There are images, sights and smells that will be with me until the day I die.
“I will never forget the amazing people who came to my rescue that day, putting their lives on the line to save mine. I will always wonder how I managed to live while others just short yards from where I stood weren't as fortunate.
“Those blue lights are so much more than ghost towers in the sky. They’re reminders of the fragility of life, how short the ride is on this spinning planet and a reason to be nicer to each other.
“‘Never forget’ is not a trite phrase. I would suggest that ‘always remember’ goes hand in hand with ‘never forget.’”
– David Handschuh, photojournalist and first responder on Sept. 11, 2001. He is also a past NPPA president (2000).