Iconic images document the enormity of the 9/11 attacks
It was a day of indelible images – apocalyptic, surreal, violent, ghostly, both monumental and deeply personal. Heartbreaking to remember. Unforgettable.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks have been captured in countless photos by press photographers, passers-by, first responders, security cameras, FBI agents and others. Even an astronaut on the International Space Station took it.
Twenty years later, The Associated Press has the frames of its photographers of September 11, 2001, when hijackers used commercial planes as missiles and crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and toppled the mall’s 110-story twin towers.
These photos document the enormity, chaos and emotion of 9/11 on all scales, from panoramic views of smoke rising above the New York skyline to a close-up of the anxious face and smeared of a woman rushing down a street covered in ashy dust.
Street scenes show growing horror as people gaze and mourn at the burning skyscrapers, then flee from the cloud of dust that sweeps through lower Manhattan after one collapses. Flames erupt from the windows of the Pentagon, a global symbol of military might that has proven vulnerable to attack by a handful of Islamic militants. A drooping human form, almost silhouetted against one of the mall’s towers, shows one of the most agonizing horrors of all.
Some show more intimate views of pain, but also of humanity – the screaming face of an injured firefighter; a woman walking through the eerie blizzard of mall debris with her arm around someone else’s shoulder; then Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Malcolm Bruce Westcott, holding a comforting hand to Pentagon employee Racquel Kelley’s forehead while assessing his shock.
There are images of determination, including firefighters working amid the smoky rubble and a shopkeeper sweeping up the dust from the disaster.
Finally, as night falls, people stare at the smoke in New York Harbor, trying to figure out what happened before their eyes. As we still are today.
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