On September 11, 2001, four hijacked planes were used to carry out attacks on the United States. Two planes hit New York City’s World Trade Center, a third plunged into the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after an attempt was made by passengers to regain control. In total 2,992 people were killed.
When our photo staff began to plan for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it was difficult to know where coverage should begin. The first story that came to mind is how Ground Zero has changed. It has been remarkable to watch the buildings being constructed. Not only have we seen them rise above ground level, but slowly surpass the height of every other building in lower Manhattan. Colleagues of mine have done a wonderful job of documenting the evolution of the site and the reactions of those around it, but while that might be the most obvious story to tell, it was not the most profound change that I feel has taken place in New York since the attacks. For me, the most significant modification is that security has become omnipresent in the city.
It was a typical Friday afternoon in Berlin — traffic in the streets and people looking forward to their weekend. A few hours earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had finished her traditional summer press conference in the capital city, where she answered with quite a lot of humor and unusual looseness, journalist’s questions about the Greek crisis and the EU summit in Brussels before she left for summer vacation. I was at home and not aware of the latest news when I got a phone call from the Berlin office: “It’s an emergency. There was a bomb explosion in Oslo. Can you book a flight to Oslo and immediately fly there?” At first I did not know what exactly had happened. My wife searched for information online and the first breaking news images from Oslo had flooded the media. People were wandering amid the rubble in the governmental area of the Norwegian capital.
Having covered the events of 9/11 and 6 of the last 7 memorials, this year was very different. In the past I had a very hard time covering these memorials emotionally. It was tough seeing these people grieving the loss of loved ones and having, not even through six degrees of separation, known anyone that passed away hard to grasp. But year after year we have gone down to the site to mark the anniversary of one of the worst attacks on American soil in history.