Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

9/11 Remembered: 2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

September 11th 2001 was a Tuesday and I had been teaching all morning and was picking up my bike from where I kept it safely in the caretaker’s store to go home just before 2pm when a colleague who had previously lived in New York came in extremely agitated to break the news to me of an attack on the World Trade Center there. I rushed with her to her office a short way along the corridor and watched with her the news unrolling on the screen of her desktop computer, sharing her horror.

American Airlines flight 11 had been piloted into the north tower at 8.46am, and while we were watching news came through of the second plane, United Airlines flight 175 hitting the south tower at 9.03am.

I was then as well as a little part-time teaching working full-time as a freelance providing content about photography for an American web giant and knew that I had to find out more and particularly more pictures and write about the event. I cycled home, switched on my computer and started searching, not the news agencies and papers but for first person accounts and photographs by those who had been inside or close to the twin towers when the planes hit.

Social media was very much in its infancy in 2001, but I knew that people would be posting their experiences and some photographs in various forums on line, and I was soon able to find some. Normally I would have contacted people and asked for permission to use their images and text, but there wasn’t time for this, and I mainly linked to their posts with just short quotes and wrote about the pictures in these.

It was the first major news event where most of the immediate content was posted by the people involved, citizen reporting. Most of the pictures were snatched on phones and their blurred and poorly framed images gave them an authentic quality that more professional results would have lacked, rather like those ten or eleven frames snatched by a shaking Robert Capa lying cold and wet on a Normandy beach.

I don’t think the post I made a few hours later has survived – at least I can’t find a copy of it, but I doubt if it was one of my better written or more interesting pieces. But however ephemeral it did meet the occasion and within 24 hours had been read by over a million viewers, more than ten times my normal viewing figures, and the biggest immediate response of anything I wrote in the seven years I worked on the site.

The EDL returned to protest against the Muslims and the press.

This year, 20 years on, there are going to be plenty of films, TV programmes and magazine and newspaper articles about 9/11 and still a few clinging to the discredited conspiracy theories that quickly sprung up around it. But there seem to be few if any live events taking place in London to remember those who died other than a private gathering for families who lost relatives on Saturday 11th.

In 2010 the event became controversial when both the EDL and Muslims Against the Crusades decided to remember it. The EDL came first, marching to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy.

Later in the day around a hundred extremist Muslims from Muslims Against the Crusades, a fringe group led by Anjem Choudary, arrived at the US Embassy. As a response to Florida pastor Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11, they had called for the day to be made ‘International Burn The American Flag Day’ and for groups around the world to burn the US flag, which they see as a symbol of unbelief and of war – military, ideological, social and economic – against the Muslim religion. I don’t think anyone else followed there lead and they found the flag hard to set alight despite lighter fuel being poured on it.

The EDL came back to shout and threaten the Muslims, but fortunately police were able to keep the two groups apart. I’m still unsure why Choudary was allowed to carry on his activities for so long without arrest, but the suggestion that he was used by MI5 to attract Muslim extremists so they could be easily identified seems likely.

More on My London Diary:

EDL Protest Against MAC
Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag
EDL Remember 9/11


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


The Falling Man

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Most if not all of us remember what we were doing when we heard about the tragic attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11, the 11th of September 2001.

I was just getting my bicycle ready to leave college after a morning’s teaching – I was then working part-time and had finished for the day – when a distraught colleague rushed up to me to tell me the news. She had grown up in New York, and had just seen pictures on her computer showing a plane flying into one of the towers. We shared our horror at what was happening, and watched for short time together unable to beleive what was happening.

After a few minutes I left her and got on my bike and cycled home. I couldn’t eat lunch but began to search for more information on the web, finding both the pictures on the news channels and also a number of posts of mobile phone pictures and video taken by those close to the events, including some making their way out of the building. It was these pictures, with their rawness, often blurred and indistinct that really brought home the horror to me, and I sat and wrote an article linking to them and to some of the professional imagery.

I don’t know that it was a very good article, but I clearly saw the event not only as a terrible act of terrorism, but also as a clear indication of the power of ‘citizen journalism’, perhaps the first major world event where the story was told and illustrated most immediately and effectively by those caught up in the tragedy rather than profesional journalists. And it was a story that attracted around a million views in the next 24 hours or so.

Of course we soon saw a great deal of fine coverage from the professionals, particulalry of the later stages of the event, but these lacked the rawness and immediacy of those first acounts – which their technical shortcomings emphasized (as does the grain and shakiness of Capas D-Day pictures).

Esquire Magazine has published a long and very interesting feature about the photographs of people who fell from the burning towers, and in particular the ‘Falling Man’ captured in a series of images taken by photographer Richard Drew. Originally published on the front pages, it quickly became the subject of controversy, and disappeared from view except on some insalubrious web sites. As the feature reveals, it caused considerable distress among at least one family of a man who died and was apparently wrongly identified as the man in the picture.

The story by Tom Junod is an interesting one, which also raises many issues about the use of these and other photographs, and about what photographs can tell us about what they depict. He concludes that this image of one of the perhaps 200 men who jumped from the upper stories of the WTC rather than await the death that seemed inevitable is of the man who “became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen.