DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget: Looking Back at 9/11 @The Newseum

A radio tower from the top of one of the Twin Towers
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, freelance news photographer Bill Biggart was out walking his dogs with his wife, Wendy. Off in the New York City distance, they saw smoke billowing skyward in the area of the Twin Towers.

Biggart ran home to grab his cameras and then head toward the smoke. A short time later, Wendy called her husband on his cell phone. "I'm with the firemen. I'm safe and I'll meet you in 20 minutes." he told her.

He never made that appointment.

Four days later, Wendy learned her husband's body had been found in the rubble near the 2nd collapsed tower. His cameras were recovered and his pictures developed. The 54-year-old photographer had dramatically captured his biggest, and final story, just blocks from his home.

Artifacts from Biggart, including his charred ID card
Biggart's tale and his equipment provide a personalized central focus for the 9-ll Gallery at the Newseum, which was one of the best places in DC yesterday to quietly pay tribute to the tragedy and heroism that will forever be linked to that fateful September day 13 years ago.

The 9-11 Gallery is designed to tell the story of how journalists covered all the shocking news on that catastrophic day when 3 hijacked planes changed American history.
But the gallery is not the only place in the Newseum to reflect on 9/11. In the collection of historic newspapers on the top floor, visitors can peruse 3 front pages from that time. The first from a special edition of the San Francisco Examiner features a flaming Twin Tower and the single giant headline screaming "Bastards." A second paper, Asharq Al-Awsat, a London-based Arab language paper, contains the banner "America Burning and Bush Pledges Revenge" in Arabic. The final paper, The New York Amsterdam News in an edition from a week after the destruction of the Twin Towers, heralds the story of 11 black firefighters who were still missing with the simple headline "Missing."

Finally, in the popular FBI exhibit G-Men and Journalists there is a large section which tells the story of the attack on New York and the Pentagon and Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida organization that carried it out.

The Newseum is well aware of how poignant and powerful their presentation can be. Located on a main gallery shelf between facsimilies of 9-11 front pages is a tin of tissues. And be forewarned: there is a good chance you may need to take advantage of that offer.

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