As this weekend approaches in the news, before Memorial Day weekend, the new National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens to the public in New York City to serve as a reminder to one of the terrible moments in our history. It provides stories of the many who perished, of the survivors, and to those who helped one another, and will act as a memorial testament to American resilience and perseverance.
Many of us remember that day over 13 1/3 years ago and what we were doing as it has profoundly touched our lives. I remember teaching at a local college that morning and had made plans the day before to take photos after class of a special high tide at my favorite lighthouse, Nubble light, in York, Maine. You see, there had been a wild ocean storm about 600 miles or more out at sea and was stirring up some wild surf for high tide.
I came back from class and shortly found myself barraged with emails from colleagues to check the news regarding the two planes that had crashed into the towers. The visuals caught on the news that we all saw were unbelievable, knowing that lives had been lost, but not knowing at that point the future events that would unfold later as the towers collapsed.
Those of us, who take photos, do so to express our emotions or to also evoke emotions. I was sickened as we all were by the events unfolding. And decided I needed to go out to the lighthouse and make a statement. When I left for the lighthouse, the towers had not collapsed at that time as they were burning infernos.
I arrived at Nubble lighthouse about a couple hours after the planes had crashed into the towers and noticed the flag had already been ordered at half-mast for victims of the disaster. No one else was around (which in itself was strange) and it was a warm sunny day. Technically the lighting was lousy as it was near noon, but I didn’t care as the surf was crashing all around me. There was a sense of danger as I set up to take some images close to the shore while walking along slippery rocks, but for all the movement around me, the lighthouse stood strong as our nation’s protector with the flag still visible. It was giving me a sense of peace in appreciating the beauty around.
The image I found involved a softness of the waves crashing in the foreground with the sharp clarity of the lighthouse in the background. The lighthouse became a sign of perseverance, resilience, strength, patriotism, and protection. The image is nothing fancy, but it helped me to grieve, as I felt helpless to the incident. I stayed at the lighthouse for a couple of hours, just staring out at the ocean’s churning waters, and observing the lighthouse. I found myself praying for the victims at times.
I keep a print of it on my wall in my office at home, with an inscription on the bottom that reads “Remember 9-11.” A gentle reminder to never give up and remain steadfast.
We all have different ways of how we dealt with the tragedy of September 11, 2001, this is mine and I simply want to share this image and my simple story as we remember those who were lost. God bless America and God bless us all.