Originally posted on Facebook by David Handschuh on Sept. 11, 2022.
Never forget: 21 years later, the pictures resonate
By David Handschuh
Sept. 11, 2022 - Images. The power of images. Thousands and thousands of pixels. All capturing 1/500th of a second in time.
But the importance of these images as contemporary recordings of future history has never been more apparent than today.
On 9.11.01, I recorded FDNY Chief Gerard Barbera, looking up at the World Trade Center. He was not scared. He knew that he was going to lead FDNY firefighters into the toughest battle ever.
This was the last photo taken of Chief Barbera.
Today I was introduced to his son Paul, an emergency room doc who not so ironically specializes in burn care.
We hugged, cried and he told me how important my image was to his family.
So important, that he shared a photo of the tattoo, from my image of his father, that he has on his back.
He said his father would have hated it.
Later in the morning I ran into my friend Michael Nagle, a brilliant photographer who said he met a cop who wanted to meet me.
He pointed out a lone cop, Sean Kumpf, standing silently by himself, looking at names on the memorial wall. I walked over and introduced myself. Quietly, he reached into his pocket, took out his phone and showed me the image I took of him 15 years ago today. On his knees, by himself again, saying a prayer at a reflecting pool in the pit of the about-to-be-constructed tower, in 2006.
A day later, Kumpf shipped off to the Army, fought for his country and returned to a job as a police officer.
More hugs. More stories. More tears.
We don’t always consider the impact of our images but clearly, the work we do is crucial, important and leaves a lasting chronicle of life.
I’m proud of these images, but more proud to meet the people so impacted, moved or motivated by these photographs.
Today was a truly tough day as I stood with the firefighters of Engine 217 who saved my life that day. But it was a true reminder of how fragile life is and how important it is to appreciate every single day.
Handschuh, an NPPA past-president (2000), and a first responder/photojournalist on Sept. 11. He was critically injured when the South Tower collapsed and credits the firefighters of Engine 217 with saving his life. He gave News Photographer permission to publish his words and photographs. As he does every 9/11 anniversary, David asks that we never forget, but also that we should also always remember.