Faces of Ground Zero
edited: Tuesday, July 16, 2002
By Doug Holder
Posted: Monday, February 11, 2002
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A photography exhibit at the Boston Public Library.
* appeared in Spare Change News
On a recent Saturday afternoon I crossed the Charles River, to experience the photography exhibit, FACES OF GROUND ZERO by Joe McNally. This was a collection of life-sized photos of the firefighters, janitors, policeman, EMTS, and others who were present at that infamous spot in Lower Manhattan and survived to be photographed. This show, at the Boston Public Library was impressive.
The portraits presented captured the tragedy of Sept. 11, that was literally etched into the subjects' faces. Being a poet, I was even more interested with the words that accompanied each face. Although these people were not professional writers or poets,(as far as I know) their work formed a lyrical account of the horror they encountered. One firefighter recalled being pulled to safety by his longtime partner:
" It was a plume of black death chasing me. I got hit by debris and was ready to curl up and die when Price pulled me under a tow truck. Every now and then we'd just touch each other. I felt so alone out there."
Two hard-boiled NYPD detectives reported:
" You dig for hours, sifting through mounds of mud and twisted...metal..It's so impersonal, until you come across a lock of hair...or a photo ID...you feel the pain of those lost lives."
This is a window washer's simple, but terribly sad lament,
" I just can't talk about it."
It is horrible to think about the muse that inspired these folks compelling commentary. Sometimes words do fail us, but in this case they were painfully and beautifully on the mark.