Faces told the story.
Some faces frowned. Others had tears. All had a look that revealed something profound about what they had just seen.
Me, for instance.
A couple of weeks ago, our Community Investment intern Ben Greenberg and I went to the Newseum to prepare this blog and the accompanying video. Comcast Corporation and the Comcast Foundation underwrote the 9/11 Gallery, which reveals how the media around the world covered the horrific story of September 11, 2001.
I did some homework on the train from Philadelphia and thought I was prepared for what I’d see. Not even close.
The 9/11 Gallery occupies the East corner of the fourth floor. As with the entire seven-floor Newseum, its design is simple yet elegant. You immediately focus on two things as you enter the Gallery:
- A gnarled, 31-foot high piece of the 360-foot communications tower that fell with the World Trade Center.
- A huge wall with the images of 127 newspaper front pages from around the world, each in its own way expressing both outrage and helplessness.
Behind the wall of front pages, a video plays every 12 minutes in a small theater. The video includes stunning footage that I’d never seen, and interviews with reporters and photographers working at Ground Zero as the Twin Towers were struck and, shortly thereafter, crumbled.
As you exit the theater, you find a box of tissues placed directly in front of the New York Post’s special edition front page. I was told the tissue box is refilled often.
The Gallery includes artifacts from the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA tragedies, and a visitor book as suggested by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Newseum trustee Shelby Coffey said that about 25 books have been filled with comments in the last year – some angry, some wistful, many deeply personal.
What affected me the most was a display of incredible images by photojournalist William Biggart, taken just before the North Tower collapsed upon him. Somehow, rescue workers found his three cameras, one indicating that he snapped his final photo at 10:28.24 a.m. The 9/11 Commission said the North Tower collapsed at 10:28.25.
I couldn’t stop staring at Mr. Biggart’s photos and listening to the accompanying video, in which his wife talks about this remarkable man and dedicated journalist.
I was a sports journalist for 20 years. The biggest danger I ever faced was getting yelled at by an editor for missing deadline. How do heroes like William Biggart do what they do – putting their own lives at risk to convey a story or to capture a compelling photograph?
During my visit I talked with a young man from Washington, D.C. with a journalism degree, a father and son from Israel, and a family from South Carolina. Each had a unique perspective. You will see their faces in the video and hear their words, as they attempt to describe what they’re seeing and feeling.
I don’t have enough skill as a writer or Flip Cam operator to do the 9/11 Gallery justice. Try to see it for yourself. Or read about it. Then please come back here and share your thoughts.