Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/11 +6, TAKE 2

UPDATE: The video described in this post can now be found here.

All my snarky attempts at ironic Gen-X detachment this September 11th did me no good whatsoever.

I realized this while putting together a story at work today. I was out covering the annual September 11th commemoration in Medford. Each year, about a hundred firefighters put on full gear (which weighs about 50 pounds) and climb the stairs at Rogue Valley Manor, the tallest building in Medford (I think).

Once at the top, the firefighters hold a short memorial service, have a moment of silence, and head back downstairs for a barbecue. I covered the story last September 11th, so there weren’t any surprises, but I still found the ceremony a moving tribute to the firefighters who died in the Twin Towers six years ago.

Where things broke down was in the edit bay. I was looking over footage of the firefighters huddled together during their moment of silence. They were kneeling together with their heads bowed, then a bagpipe began playing “Amazing Grace.” When the music started, the firefighters stood up and began walking in various directions.

When I taped this moment (reporters shoot their own stories in small markets), I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was more worried about proper framing and holding my shot steady. But watching the footage in the edit bay, I noticed the pained expressions on the firefighter’s faces as they walked away. The last one to walk out of the frame was a large man, about 6’ 3”, 230 pounds. He was carrying an axe. (The video is online and can be seen here.)

I don’t know what it was about that image, but it moved me. In truth, I have no idea what that firefighter was thinking or feeling as I shot that video. But as I watched the footage of him walking away, it occurred to me that this guy devotes a large portion of his life to helping other people. If I was in a burning building, he’d be the kind of person who would run inside to try and save me.

Then it occurred to me that someone killed hundreds of people like that one terrible day six years ago. And the horror of that moment, the helpless feeling I had watching the whole thing unfold from a Prague hotel room, it all came flooding back. I closed the edit bay door and put my head in my hands and sorrowed over the wretchedness of humanity.

It’s six years later, and there’s still no “why.” And there’s still no healing. And I just want it to be over… to move on. But it’s still there, and it’s not going away any time soon. And all my pithy comments won’t change a thing.

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At 3:37 am, Blogger Birchsprite said...

peace to you and to the memories of all the lost people in the world


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