20 Years Later: Remembering 9-11 Through A Lighthouse Image
Many of us remember that day 20 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 after class the day before on the tenth, to take photos of a special high tide at my favorite lighthouse a half hour away, Nubble light, also known as Cape Neddick lighthouse, in York, Maine. You see, there had been an ocean storm created by Hurricane Erin, a powerful storm hundreds of miles out to sea, and which was not going to make landfall on the coast. It was just south of New England, and was stirring up some wild surf for high tide.
I came back from teaching a class at a local college and shortly found myself barraged with emails from colleagues to check the news regarding the two planes that had crashed into the towers, and soon after one had crashed into the Pentagon (had not known about Flight 93 that had crashed in a filed in Pennsylvania). 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. I decided that I needed to go to the lighthouse.
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 the 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, and protection. The image is nothing fancy, but it helped me to grieve, where I felt helpless to the incident, as many of us did that day. I stayed at the lighthouse for 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 wanted to share this image and my simple story.
Remembering 9-11, 15 Years Later in 2016
I live near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, hundreds of miles from where the events occurred, but most everyday I pass by one of our firehouses where a mural was created in memory of those firefighters and other victims of the tragedy who lost their lives that day in New York, the Pentagon, and on a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania where heroes of Flight 93 thwarted an attempt to crash into the Capital building. I took a simple shot on the 15th anniversary of 9-11. We all know these same acts of appreciation and gratitude are depicted all over our country in neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and are consistent reminders of those that gave their lives, and will never be forgotten. We are a more secure and stronger country since the event, and the cost of our freedoms we hold so dear will always have a price.
Remembering 9-11, Twenty Years Later in 2021
As had occurred 20 years ago to the day on 9/11/2001, when Hurricane Erin was churning up the seas hundreds of miles away from the eastern coast, just south of New England, this year, Hurricane Larry had just passed just north of the New England coast, and was up in the Canadian maritimes, hundreds of miles away from the shore and was also still churning up the seas.
I decided to go up to Portland Head lighthouse, Maine’s oldest lighthouse, about an hour’s ride, and take photos there at high tide, demonstrating symbolisms for freedom, security, endurance, and resilience, in remembrance of 9-11. There were hundreds of people enjoying the day and taking pictures of the surf crashing on the rocks around the beacon. Although not as turbulent as Hurricane Erin, Hurricane Larry was still providing a wondrous site at high tide, on a beautiful blue sky day with clouds. It was a comfortable day as my wife just enjoyed hanging out by the shore and reading, while I went about taking pictures and talking to tourists. As was done 20 years ago, performed annually on this date, and many others, the flag was at half mast, to remind all of us of the sacrifices so many had made for our freedom. I, along with many others I observed, paused in front of the flag, to give silent respect.
Give of yourself to benefit others, hug those you love, shake hands with those around you and accept them for their differences, and thank those firefighters, policemen, and those in our medical community who sacrifice their lives each day for our local security. Thank those in the armed services at home and abroad, and above all, thank and remember those families who provide their support in sending their loved ones in harm’s way to preserve our freedom. Above all, let us not forget those who died or were wounded on that day 20 years ago. Let there be peace among us.
God bless America and God bless us all!
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions you can explore. These include whale watching excursions, lighthouse tours, windjammer sailing tours and adventures, special parks and museums, and lighthouses you can stay overnight. You’ll also find plenty of stories of shipwrecks and rescues. Lighthouses and their nearby attractions are divided into regions for all you weekly and weekend explorers. You’ll also find plenty of stories of hauntings around lighthouses.
Join, Learn, Support the The American Lighthouse Foundation