Things have changed. I've been working on a series of videos for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and in the process my eyes have been opened to tragedy, to anguish and to courage. I've learned so much about what happened on 9/11 and how it affected people that I now know. I met Ann and Dutch and Susan and the Yancy's. For these people, it was all real and close to their hearts and heads ten years ago, and for them, they never had learn about it through other people's experiences, they always knew first hand.
One of the guys we interviewed, Dutch, emailed me with some pictures I'd asked for. Dutch lives in Boulder with his three sons and wife. We interviewed him because his younger sister Nina worked in the World Trade Center and died that day. Dutch and Nina were really close. I'd asked Dutch if he was willing to share any pictures of himself and his sister. He returned my email late late into the night. In it, he included some lovely lovely pictures and a few words..
"I found more but some were too personal and others were too embarrassing…I spent a couple of hours going through old photos. it was good for me, brought back some really fond memories. though I have to say I miss her more than ever right now…"It was such a seemingly small gesture for him to have included these words in an email to me, someone whom he has met once and talked on the phone with twice. But when I read it I thought about Dutch and his sister laughing at the dinner table when they were kids and that they used to write letters in code to each other. Memories he was able to share with us, but memories nonetheless that he does not bring to the surface often because it is too painful, memories of a lost sister.
Due to my growing personal connection to this event in the past weeks, my fascination has snowballed. And I think it's because I'm looking and reading with a new perspective. I've been reading articles written back in the days directly after 9/11, I've been reading retrospective articles, I've been watching StoryCore animated videos (which, by the way are interestingly different, check them out), and videos telling the story from the photojournalist's perspective (Witness to History: The Photographers of 9/11). I've listened to The 9/11 Tapes: The Stories in the Air. I've looked through tons of photo galleries. There is so much happening around the world and for me to take the time to really read and investigate and understand something that happened far away from me, be it physically far away, or emotionally, I need to find a way to connect personally to it.
I guess in the end, this post is about my growing understanding of what journalism means to me. So, broadly, journalists are responsible for bringing as a real an understanding of 'what happened' to their audience as possible. More specifically for me right now, journalists have the opportunity to take a big far away event and give someone an avenue into understanding it on a personal or individual basis.
To show how it affected real people, and what it felt like to be affected personally so that that person can relate and empathize and understand with their hearts.
Before, I knew 9/11 as a whole, as an event. It was big and horrible, too big really for me to comprehend at age 14. Now, when I read all these articles and look and pictures and videos, I think about what it meant for the people I interviewed for this story. Now I can see 9/11 in small heart-wrenching pieces as well as hopefully begin to better see the mosaic. I hope the videos I've contributed to the Denver Post's 9/11 - 10 years later can give some people that avenue in.
This video is one of eight vignettes of people connected and effected by the attacks of 9/11. My colleague, reporter John Ingold, and photographers Craig. F. Walker and RJ Sangosti also worked hard on the written and picture portions of these profiles, you can check out their work and the rest of my work here.
Ten years ago, Ann Wichmann took her dog Jenner to New York as part of a local Federal Emergency Management Agency Administration rescue team that searched the rubble of ground zero.