DescriptionJim Chesnutt interviews his friend Michael Rieger about their mutual September 11th experience in New York City as photographers during the World Trade Center tragedy.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Michael Rieger
- James (Jim) Chesnutt
- Andy Warhol
- Community Center
- Federal Emergency Management Administration
- God’s House
- historical events/people
- New York city
- personal experiences
- religious beliefs and practices
- rescue worker
- September 11
- World Trade Center
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00:04 You know, it's bad. When are you got to actually think about what your age is? This is Jim Chestnut. I'm currently 42 years old. So I don't feel like it today's date is August 4th 2007. We are in Denver, Colorado and I'm talking today to Michael Reger who is one of my dear friends.
00:25 Hi, I'm Mike Reger. How are Michael Reger age? 42 today is August 4th 2008 sitting here in Denver, Colorado having a conversation with Jim Chestnut good friend of mine.
00:42 We are you and I have talked for some time about what we'd have kind of jokingly called our Warhol moment. And for those who aren't as old as we are at it really is referred to by the way, if it's really no other than me back in the 60s artist Andy Warhol said something about something like that in the future. Everyone would be world-famous for like 15 minutes before we go beyond that. You're the artist meant by that. I think the Warhol, Mama kind of men. Do you know the world's going to look at you at some point in your life for a certain he gave 15 minutes. I think some people get more some people play make a little less but it's going to be the focus of attention is going to come towards you.
01:23 What do you think it was it was you saying with that that was that a comment on the media or the fickle nature you think of of people who consume art or culture pop culture? Probably a little bit of both really the nature of media and also the nature of the human interest of people wanting to know stories about people with all the drugs. He took the closet inspiration for saw the YouTube generation, who knows but I don't know if either one of us was truly ever famous, but we were certainly now involved and at the center of a story that was that capture the attention of the world and that's the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 a background one day you and I working for the Federal Emergency Management agency here in Denver, Colorado. And the next thing we know we are in lower Manhattan as to two members of a essentially a four-person crew initially that was charged with capturing the still images in the video.
02:23 That fed the world's media in the initial weeks coming out of 911 cuz they kicked out that the mainstream press so.
02:30 We had I guess front seat history. There was a real honour, right? That's how I feel about it. I know about you very much. So and you know, everyone was touched by 911 and certainly changed in the fundamental ways at least in this country. But one thing is kind of interesting is even though we're pretty good friends. We talk a lot. We haven't talked a lot about how that event changed our lives since then so I guess we'll start with the actual event was kind of weird reaction when some people have seen some of the video that I've tried all the images that you captured and don't look all these things beautiful and I don't know about you but the call them beautiful kind of makes me wince a little bit. What do you think about that?
03:11 I know a lot of the images we captured did have this quality of beauty and serenity even to him.
03:23 It doesn't surprise me. I don't think it's a bad thing either, you know, it was a very tragic event, but the response and what we were part of and the searching and capturing those moments were very beautiful moments and
03:41 To have played that part in the social people to see those images in there. I think brings out. There was a real human side what was going on on the ground at Ground Zero and there was this
03:58 Amputee that was there and that it captured. I also think it shows that we did our jobs pretty well and that we didn't just capture the tragic and sad but we also captured that Human Experience of there was all sorts of those emotions going on down there from happy to sad and people always just take care of each other and remembering their fall in love ones or their friend that's missing. So, I'm actually I like it when people see that in the images and they also feel comfortable enough to voice it.
04:36 I'm in a hurry cuz it is something to say. Wow. That's it immature Ground Zero, but it's beautiful sound.
04:43 Is there a lot of you know, I think I'd life is a lot of cliches and paradoxes that we accept it's part of the language, you know that you know that beauty and ugliness lot of times are two sides of the same coin, but that it seems to me that when we were down there you actually I got I kind of got it after that that you know that that's where that's where the ugliest thing I've ever seen most horrific thing I've ever seen you but you're right there were human Beauty but you know is even surprising us. Some people have said some of these images look like they were shot on a in a theater or Sound Stage the movie Set. So there between the the sort of ethereal lighting that was there at night and obviously the powerful subject matter. I mean, let's face it some of the images were just playing even just visually stunning all that's very much. I remember first night. I spent down at Ground Zero and got on the bus with the new Star team from, Nebraska.
05:43 I'm sorry, Utah and we made our way down to ground zero and we sat up our forward went to the forward boo, which was the base of operations are working from there's just offside a little bit and then
06:00 Willits we got set up for you walked around walk over to the pile where they were doing the voice search is going into the different areas and looking for stuff and looking for anyone that might be alive and there was just this unreal lighting you had every form of lighting. So technically there is no mercury vapor lights. There is tungsten light service. We had to tell her quality of the light that as a photographer you not struggle with an but also made things. Yes. I mean, I mean, it sounds almost for waiting for someone to say cut and just remember being with everyone and then watching these guys go 30-40 feet in the ground and then disappear into the pile and then the merge back out and
06:48 About night was quite quite a long as there to the three or four in the morning before I wandered off piling got a few hours sleep and start it all over again.
06:58 You're one of the things that struck me was when I was there. I was like how many civilians ever see anything quite like this in a military personnel. They're paid to go see difficult things crispy things and I think that you hear a lot about these students are in a battlefield relationships that occur in the military and I think he also would like the fire fire service and police not kind of thing. But again, I understood that too and that was some of the beauty that we saw was the relationships between the people who were doing the search and the search came from such a great place to meet people are trying to find their their their fellow-citizens their fellow firefighters and in some cases. I mean, it was crazy that some of them where they looking for a fellow family members because I didn't realize it but in that City, the fire service is a is a family tradition in many cases and so you had multiple Generations searching for each other, which was just I mean, just amazing.
07:55 It really was.
07:59 You talk about
08:02 Capture Mo. You know that that everyone just kind of taking care of each other and watching out for each other. There was always a helping hand. I know when our group that was given the task of photographing and videotaping and supporting their protection rescue teams. There was this, Audrey of just making sure everyone is doing okay and we're getting some food and water and we all do no want to do as much job is physically could do.
08:37 I remember it.
08:40 One thing we were watching. Everyone was making sure y'all. Can you come in and say hi before you head back out again? I think everyone broke down and cried at least once twice three times, you know, maybe in a day and I remember, you know, it's like okay haven't seen her, you know, cry any time lately. I'm fresh talk to everyone just always made sure. I'd rather talk about a firefighter that came running up with her and ask her if you got to do something for me. She's a quite a lot. But whatever I can help ya you need to sit down and drink some water and you know that thing there was always someone there and you know all sold in the search-and-rescue, but even outside the grounds are all the support from the city.
09:28 And even further out all the support from the country if this came flooding in and you really felt that and
09:39 To be part of
09:42 Approved coming together and helping each other like that was on fire. And now I still think about that. I was in like to say, you know, remember the love cuz we'll never forget the day. I'll never forget the day but I just hope people remember how everyone came together no matter where you are in the country, you know, if you went down to give blood or you sent in a donation or are you set to
10:09 It'll food products or even you know, started thinking more about you know, what we need to do to help each other in our local communities and stuff. So, you know, that's one of the things the Legacy I think about coming together and a whole bunch of people discovering that community at once. Is that a profound effect. I know a lot of my friends coming home and talking with them from across the country speak of that.
10:33 You know.
10:36 I remember that moment. I everyone has a different word for it. I mean the politicians I think call it wasn't opportunity lost or whatever but I think of it as that there is a magic moment that actually lasted I don't know perhaps early days maybe weeks during the response to 9/11 where it sounds kind of new agey now, but there was a certain feeling of Oneness of one Community maybe even a one Global Community even for a brief instant.
11:04 You know end.
11:07 What do you think was at the root of that? I mean there was for me. I felt like that there was a moment of opportunity where you know, we could have had a collective Epiphany and let me know maybe we can put a lot of this petting us behind us and in kind of strike out and do something new collectively as a people and it's been maybe sounds pie-in-the-sky now, but at the moment it seemed completely reasonable, I guess what do you think has happened to that moment? And do you think there's any chance to recapture it? I think the moment still there I take people still carried with him and it still rises. I don't think we can you could you know that all to everyone saying things aside coming together and
11:47 Was very powerful and still happens. Now, it's what you do with it, you know, okay, we had this idea and reproving that we can all come together and do things together. So it's a matter of bringing it back out and
12:06 Maybe it's not doing something around the country, but maybe it's doing something in your local neighborhood. You know, let's all get together and
12:16 Clean up the vacant lot or clean up our neighborhood or it can be something simple or build something. You know, let's
12:27 It's that Johnny going to cause it's just taking that time to remember and then doing something with that remembering. That's one thing I love about you is you are so darn positive about all this stuff. I eat before I get deposit if I've always got to go through the the sadness because I I'm still kind of bummed out. I think that we that we missed an opportunity in that wild of this sort of moment where it seemed to me that everyone's eyes were open to something new if there were new things that we could do and maybe get past past problems. It seems into me largely forgotten now, it's you know, like the moment feels me like it's past and it is well. I remember that at least it's possible because you know, we at least we now know it's possible. I just don't know what the next step would be to ever recapture that you know,
13:13 So maybe take me maybe you're right me the answer is is Little Fizz the little things building on the little things the little things built into the big things about six months after getting home and gentleman came up to me and asked me if we were talking about art and he says, okay, you know, I just came from Ground Zero book. Where's the ground zero fart. Do you know in?
13:38 Where is art begin in you know you have these large experiences? He knows it's a so hole in New York or San Francisco or wear out your sister on New Orleans and stand there looking at him thinking about you know, where the base of that Human Experience comes from and art and creation and down the street because that's where most people interact in its.
14:06 Taking that creative approach art
14:09 I think
14:11 Helps and I cannot track your butt.
14:16 United stat taking that creative spirit and doing something with it and I thank you note that coming together at 9:11 was this creative Spirit coming out and people found innovative ways to help each other and to
14:36 Come together and do stuff so I do not think it's still there at you know, and I don't think there's one answered. Howard bring it all back together, but it's definitely something worth trying, you know, and I think I'm going to have to try a little bit at home. And then come the pieces together. Your part of Arts job is to comment on the state of society and you know, both critically and and also the reflected and influence it has art near Pinon done its job since 9/11 to put the event in perspective or to do whatever our does wishing. My mind is 2.2 things beyond words that mean it has art as is are done its job for felons Mission there or 911. I'd like to see more stay away from the subject because they don't
15:35 You know, I haven't seen I seen some some people's taking their experiences whether it was watching on the TV or they had a friend or an associate or lost or someone who went through the experience. I haven't seen so much more eksploration about not just the tragedy but also became was born out of that. I think the more we do it that it's a great legacy to the people who were lost
16:07 So to see more of their creative Spirit come out of it. I would like to let you know I think it's to do a lot more and helping people remember and carry forth on that. You know that that great outpouring of support and understanding a came from that and also helping people understand each other.
16:31 What are the things about I could probably make clear that you are an artist you're a you got to think of you as a renaissance man. Some of us were only good at a couple little things if we're lucky but you're a you're a really photographer. You're a painter you work in clay metal a number of other things that are that are Beyond me but I was thinking about this and like Mike was a renaissance man, but a true renaissance man can handle the store. Going to go to no good at the store. But never one other thing I want to mention to is that you and I were two members of the four person team. The other two members were Andrea Brewer, who is we love dearly as a brilliant still photographer and her son was another video ographer down there, right? And so we were the who were there for? Why don't we were the lead group 4 to 3 weeks and 3 weeks and then I got four more people joined us.
17:31 Oxford know where they are at the chondria was there the longest a loss for she was there for about eight and a half nine weeks. I was there for 6. I know we all came home with her profile of images. Yeah. Well with more than just images to related to that one thing that are employer the time the Federal Emergency Management agency. I did a pretty good job after a little while was recognizing that the people who had gone through an experience that most civilian types don't ever go through they they put a lot of us through. What do you always call dbree think it was kind of debriefing out so they brought in a psychologist to kind of talk through everything and you reminded me the other day of something she are our facilitator set and at the time it went right over my head, but I want to bring you back to it. Now. She described our group as a quote-unquote witness to history and a keeper of stories.
18:29 What is that mean? What did that mean to you?
18:33 What kind of struck me as if it was true, we all came home with a lot of different stories. You know that week. We all sat around telling stories and we all I know we all heard stories. We hadn't heard before and I thought I'd send you guys all the time until I knew him off and it just really drove home that we really in our group have been working together for a number of years prior to 9/11. And so our group all the sudden have this project together and then become the keeper of these well, well, we all witness this historic from a very
19:06 Up close and personal vantage point and the keeper of stories and she's like, I remember just making you know what to do with that. What do you do with those stories? You're now the keeper going to just stay quietly with you or they have are they going to come out and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer there. I think some stories can stay quietly with a person that's fine. A lot of stories should come out and be heard by the greater public and that keep her stories really struck me and I personally going to do with these stories I have and
19:50 Did I felt like I needed to come up with an answer pretty quick and I couldn't so that took a little time to what what does that mean? And it took awhile just time for this. The same can't you know that keeper stories and I kind of hope we all are keeper stories. We have some stories.
20:10 I know what I got home talking to my friends. They all want to know what it was. Like, where was it? Where were you standing? Where do you know what you see when when you smell and all the sudden I realized.
20:26 I was there close contact now to this event. They've been watching on TV and
20:34 So there they were just hungry to hear the story see the images.
20:42 And sharing those stories Elder time. So and I pretty much have come to the point where any time I can talk about him and share them spoken with a few groups and I worked quite a bit with here is New York the gallery show and I tried to do that. And actually the here is New York ended up being my first two things creative Outlet. I was like, okay, I need to also transform some of this into my own art and creative in one is telling the stories and two is also translate Trend some form of those stories into
21:27 Temp is acquired in my process of working through things. And the first day I had off in New York, which was about three weeks into the event and I remember grabbing. I have a camera cuddle widelux pics 140 degree picture and we were just taking that one camera and going down to Soho to the galleries to basically look at anything that wasn't Devastation and wasn't a group but and look at smart and just kind of try to
22:00 Black little bit but seen on the back of my head is still back on the pile and still thinking about that and now I'm sending them in New York and there's this life going on.
22:10 Keep are going to their daily routines that everyone seemed to have.
22:14 Something on the back of their minds and I think it was a common thing on back of everyone's mind what was going on in this microcosm lower downtown there in just a few blocks away. Exactly and I took a lot of pictures that day and went into a lot of Galleries and found out about here is New York and ended up going in there and talking with them and me and under his images are heavily part that and I've gotten out that way quite a bit and
22:44 When I got home and I was looking at these negatives I spent.
22:47 80% of -3 sections window Reflections and these contemplative reflection of people in the windows and stuff in it every realized it was a very reflective day and the series I created out. This series was called rumination was which was these photographs and I didn't took images from ground zero and folded them into the reflections of these windows very subtly and put those up in my gallery here in Denver and I told them around a bit but
23:23 I love people one lady was looking at it one day and she was like this image. I love the street image from New York that has this haunting.
23:31 Quiet quality to it and she hadn't seen the ghost image yet for it. And so there was this discovery when she did and she went back to all five images to find the ghost images and that was my first female creative Outlet into making art and encouraging
23:49 And other people to make art from their experiences.
23:54 Is it's a brilliant serious? And I decided it was incredible back to the idea of the stories themselves. Do you have a particular story that you're the keeper of personal story or a human story from the pilot? You may be having shared before by the way. She say to that I know for a fact you look a little uncomfortable. We don't normally like to talk about this weekend. I think there's a lot of ice I think 9/11 fatigue out there and we just like to think about some other things and I don't blame people and that's why you and I I tend to be reluctant to talk about it, but we're going to talk about it. This is the time in the morning. So if you have a give us where you're keeping that you want to share it maybe you haven't talked about but it's still one of my favorite stories. There was an area in world.
24:46 Trade Center 6 or 6 that dad's house. Yeah, there's a most people think of the buildings as being two buildings, but they were actually a number of number that they sell at least one of the smaller building had collapsed in the very center of it. And for a number of days. I had a number of clergymen and different rescue workers Athens firefighter near firefighters come up to me and asked me if I had photographed God's house yet.
25:13 And said no, but chirp and then as clergyman then there's always got to go photograph God's house. He explained that there was all these broken pieces in there. There was some crosses in there that it formed and I should just go photograph. House. So one afternoon, I was like, well, I've had that many people tell me I should go photograph this I should go for a wrap it so I went over to World Trade Center stairs and I'm walking around the building trying to figure out how to get into this building without having getting myself rescued. So I'm standing there looking at this Photograph. Stop trying to do that right now. So they let me in through this little maze to find into the center and it
26:00 It took my breath away.
26:02 In there was this Cathedral?
26:06 Of the steel that a collapse into the center of the building and this very strange light coming in and there were there were a dozen perfect crosses with one right in the center with a piece of shrapnel like a piece of sheet metal on it like a shroud and it just stood there looked like I could see why these aren't these crosses weren't erected. They're not made it. Well, this was the natural lives in trees deal.
26:43 They broke through the steel but a broken traffic crosses and especially the one right in the center. One of the firefighters. I was with was Tony and Tony came up to me and asked me so that's why I've been down here searching for my cousin. He was in one of the towers and he was one of the first firefighters to discover this area and he was telling me how the firefighters in the policeman and the rescue workers had been coming here has a place to collect your thoughts.
27:14 Talk to their missing friends and loved ones and really become a sanctuary and he has yet to have any of his picture taken down at Ground Zero to just didn't want that is
27:28 The highway how everyone describe it but he asked me if I would take this picture here with the cross for him. And by all means I did and I took number of pictures very beautiful images of him. But the one main cross in the distance and time of us about three weeks later. They took that man cross out and erected in the center of ground zero and it's now just off ground zero down there. It's still there and when they did that I have this beautiful image of where this came from. So I called Tony and the picture was for him, but I want to release at a p and
28:13 Let the world see it. So we talked about discovery of ground grounds are of that house and discovering that area and how that happened and we talked about his cousin and we wrote up this really nice caption the kind of explained all of this and I sent it to Tony and we released it and it was just great experience of just coming together and working together and
28:38 It's about 2 days after that. I'm walking to ground zero in this group of firefighters to walk and passed and I'm with the director of FEMA at the time. It's one firefighter turns around says photographer. Tony says, thanks, Nikki walking.
28:55 He knows those little thing. I have those. Just one little story of of capturing something. That near wasn't.
29:03 Out there is much people in the United in here about that on the night news, but there's a lot of Human Experience going on down there. That's right. One of my favorite stores.
29:15 What are things I realize when we came home is that there was a lot of a lot of human stories and going on back here, which is one of the things that shocked me, I guess when I came home, but
29:26 What are the first indications I had that there were powerful human stories and reactions going on back home was a letter. We got this letter, but poor in remember to that what's called The Joint Information starts world up. Our counterparts will try to answer the reporter's questions from all around the world. We were also get letters there because we were sharing space with the federal rescue teams were sleeping on the ground in the same area.
29:51 Got a cute letter which everyone got these letters were able to open them that was sort of like two more things except you're going and I got a letter from the age of the child, but this was written Hartley and scribble partly. I think my mom it was a letter addressed to the rescue workers and it said, you know in clothes please accept these socks that we made for you guys and I just want to let you know that we assume you guys are going through a lot of socks cuz you want we hear you're walking all day long and wearing out your socks, but we made them really small. So please feel free to cut the toes off of them to let your toes go through this letter that you handed it to the typical big New York cop guy, right but probably over 200 pounds ripped muscle mustache looks like a movie star had it to him and he just just breaks his heart. You know, it just starts to cry, but that was when I kind of realized that
30:48 I just had this with this was impacting and I meant sounds like it now, but you've got to realize whenever you're in the middle of a Disaster Response. It's hard to forget to remember that.
31:00 That is the Shockwave extending out in all directions and some people at home were feeling feeling it and feeling the need to contribute and be part of it. And that was one of my first story that I realized that this was this was touching everybody.
31:16 I do remember those letters were walking around putting them on Malta.
31:23 Rescue workers beds. So when they came back from their field, they would have one kid and Gary Glazer is a nice guy. I was one of the fun as well as time is that afternoon? We took an hour and we put one on every got 11 have a letter or two when I got back. I want to talk a little bit about what about light sort of after that. Let me ask you one more thing, you know art to me. I think of it as a very personal thing that you share with an ultimately with it with an audience and me sell your art, right but that this was a unique situation were what we did belongs to everybody being Federal officials on official business. We don't own those images the American public does.
32:05 Define that's kind of strange, or is it what what's your thoughts about the idea that are images are used in political. I mean our video is used in this part of the the last presidential campaign, which didn't make me very happy. It seems such so personal info private, but it's out there it belongs to the watch the world. And so does love the fact that the other stuff to her talk quite a bit about the fact that the images in the collection. We shot are part of the public domain.
32:37 And I really find that fitting for the images that they are part of the public domain and that people can take these images and create with them and or just have them for remembering our experiencing.
32:54 So I love the fact that they're part of the public domain use the images and some of my own art. I'm part of the public, but I also love the fact I love the idea that someone else out there, you know go to the website of FEMA and download them and take them and
33:11 Create their own use them to help create their own experience or help fill in and I talked to some of the rescue workers since then cuz you know, we produce the CD that we gave to everyone and
33:27 How they took the images and created a slideshow to show their friends to tell the stories and I think it's wonderful that were part of those images becoming
33:42 Some help other people tell their stories.
33:46 And um
33:49 Picture of one of the Colorado rescue team and her dog out of Boulder Jenna and
33:59 Crossing this very small cement sidewalk that invested through in between the two towers of going into milligrams are on that image ended up going all over the place. She had more people contact her about that invention it gave her an opening a door all the time to talk and tell about in I think that's wonderful in charge more of it. Nice told once in a while still good phone calls from someone new wants to surround the image through here is New York or wherever and come back to me and I love and lightning people that their public domain. So go ahead and use it. A lot of people don't know that
34:48 You know when we came home what are things that surprised me was I was I guess I was kind of
34:55 Close minded. I didn't realize how it would affect people back home and wish was shocked by my people's take on it back here. We did it did that shock you that I thought of it this way. I was people were so stunned by what they saw on television and in newspapers and magazines and it kind of struck me that you are you are so touched your so blown away by what you saw through this camera lens that I drank a lot around you should have seen it should have seen the real deal.
35:27 What's your take on how you surprised when you came home? I have a definitely surprised in a variety of ways.
35:34 I thought I'd been processing a lot of it there got home. I hadn't.
35:40 Also, I was surprised the exact same thing about how so many people back home. We're still not even 6 weeks later thinking about it and going through it and we're so hungry for stories and to hear you know, what was like and I shot the album some images, but I don't think one single image.
36:04 Can convey what you and I saw in standing there and
36:10 Are we taking a photograph on the Colorado search and rescue team first got in there to get the two guys when they first come up to the pile and they just had this they tied up there and they stopped and the pictures from their back so you can see the back seat and put a mercy in their eyes, and I've been there for a few in a couple weeks by then and
36:31 Head that looks like where do we start? You know, where do you go and
36:37 So, you know about 2 weeks ago. I found out that's when you know, this is where
36:50 You know, I need to start relating some of the stories to people and helping them try to capture a glimpse of what I saw and what we saw we kicked ass off talking about how we had our 15 minutes of fame, but we really never described it. But there were there was a point in time in the aftermath of 9/11. Maybe three weeks in where the media started looking for a fresh angle for how to tell the story and they'd started looking at you and me and so did and for a little while
37:20 You know that was pretty uncomfortable because it felt like we were being famous on the back of horrific event. And and that was that was kind of uncomfortable by one level. I got I have to admit it feel good to be recognized for the fact that we were all giving a lot to do that and pretend to do that job question to you is do you want to be remembered as the 9/11 photographer? I think it's part of my legacy. I've been out some I did and I hope I'm not only remembered so I got a lot of life left in a lot of creating and a lot of photographs and wonderful things. I'm sure to document and collect.
37:59 But it's definitely a big now, but it's a big part of who I am today and has shifted my creative experience and
38:12 So yeah, I do.
38:15 Not going to wrestle with it myself. I think the long time I would have answered. No.
38:22 But it might be coming around because I got them for a long time. I kept trying to I need to do something bigger and more important so that someday you know that I don't want to be seen as my fan hanging on that cuz it's probably the only thing that I've ever done never do that with that put me in that position. But I kind of like you now I wouldn't mind if it was a footnote but the goal as you're an artist and I'm kind of more of a journalist is the kind of build a body of work that would that that might be put some of the other work in perspective but you know anyone's help isn't there that they're at the most important moment isn't already behind them.
38:59 Yes, I agree. I think that was a partner moment for us. But it's also how we move forward with it and sharing those stories and also changing the way we collect news stories.
39:12 That's true speaking of stories. You've gauged going to get married soon. If you had a child not going to ask if you had going to have kids. I'm your friend. I'm not going to do that to you. But if you had a child who stumbled across eat her dad's name in a in a history book and asked you about it. What would you tell her that you Hammer her that you learned from the lesson that you took from that that many they should incorporate into their own lies celebrate your friends.
39:43 Take the time to be an experience that life, you know going in there. Yeah, I'm definitely convey all the stories at time goes on with them but taking the time for those moments that you see and
40:02 Sharing those moments with friends and family and
40:08 China love I guess I'll be the biggest time. I still don't think it over. I just tell you no tight our group was and how this community and family we grew into even today still exist, and I find that a pretty special thing.
40:31 Teredo NAT type
40:50 He asked to go to the site what you expected before you went and what you felt when you got there.
40:59 You can.
41:01 Let me go first Hill Park again. The two things were what we expect.
41:12 Yeah, it's the situation was the strangest thing about who where I was at the time of the morning of 9/11. I was in Salt Lake City, Utah on a terrorism exercise with a scenario was two airplanes crashing into Earth crashing into a chemical weapons Depot has a terrorist attack. That was the walk up to get ready to go to work that day to work on this exercise. You know, I saw the second plane hit the building before long our boss said, he was a genius realize that the media we're not going to be allowed to be in there to cover the story that we were going to have to provide pool photographers to do that. And so I didn't know what to expect. I I knew absolutely nothing but when we kind of flew in and saw the smoldering buildings at night, you know, we work we're coming in.
42:04 No sense of what we were about to go into. I mean, I have never seen the World Trade Centers myself except for in pictures. So just in to see them in that situation was mind-blowing but
42:17 The you know, it's the one thing that struck me at the time was the massiveness of it. It was it was a world unto itself both in human terms. But also in the geography of the building of her many many many built fires burning underground. It was just unbelievable and like you said kind of where to begin with that was a Monumental task in. Basically. What I did is we we hooked up with the rescue workers and just started taking pictures and shooting video.
42:49 How about you? I remember when you guys went out first and then I've got there and realized he wanted his whole team out there. And are we getting a call from Ed and had you not saying? Okay you want to, I said, yeah. Yeah I do and then it was a matter of figuring out how to get us out there.
43:09 And we got out there on the first day. They're shifting planes around in and up in Philadelphia and driving in a couple other guys and
43:19 I remember sitting on my porch in about a half day before I left thinking about you know where I was going.
43:28 Feeling that's okay. We're walking into something back here and wondering just going to be too much. I've Loved too much. I can always come home that kind of settle that question. But also I also felt this sense of Duty, you know, I've been trained and Ben had quite a few disasters before and I've done all this training with a add an editor that is off to fire school for Wildland fires and all the stuff. So I felt a sense of Duty of this is where I need to be and there's no question about I needed to go but I knew I was while we were walking into history.
44:10 And getting there and then walking that first day around the pile was very surreal. I'm ever just looking like those to search markers from search and rescue workers from Colorado. And that look of just oh my God, where do you start? You know what I take a picture up. I mean I can take a picture every single Direction here and then I just remember that first day.
44:36 That first few hours just thinking okay. Don't don't try to process this. Just shoot take picture just take pictures take pictures. I just did that. It just took pictures. I just took pictures and I got back and I was sitting there at my computer and I was going through these on this mole lab Apple laptop and
44:57 It started hitting me what we were done be doing and what we are going to be saying and I just started to cry and probably cuz you know this stand the tragedy of it too, but I saw in out the Monumental task and decide we're going to be me and you talked about okay, we're going to do this you can work over here where I can work over here. We're just going to
45:21 AAA office in on this was a huge
45:24 And then
45:26 Yeah, gaining my trust in then from the firefighters in New York to their do, you know if it eventually you have a very okay with us being there and I'm respecting everyone's personal moment. There's mom's I didn't photograph cuz you know people in watch to have them I mean and I never saw the moments, you know, did you reset the I think it required a fair amount? I might do send my part of Letting Go and letting go of the idea of perfect safety. It really hit me the day that when you had to put your blood type in your social security number how many the rescue workers would write it in magic marker on their arms and and I was like, why is that well in the event that we need to review no identify the body or you know, or try to save your life. It's better to have that on your right on your arm. And so whenever anybody travel underground, I think whenever you went into the void spaces to try to find
46:26 Baby alive but your course was a goal that you you had to leave something behind which was of an expectation help us full of happy life. I mean it I think that watching people passed from the above the pile to down below it to me was watching people give up give up give up something and you know, it was kind of fun to sit there and in Wonder and what what what could I be losing here that would value be most valuable to me. I know where can I get get in probably nearing low on time here, but was did you have that experience? And if you did what did you have to let go of to be to allow yourself to do what you did a lot of it was just letting go of
47:08 Taking care of my own personal safety and allowing a lot of people to come up and help me too. And so when I went with the team, you don't really get accepted in with that team and get out.
47:22 Knowing, you know, we're going to be doing walking through and going into voids and it'll go into the areas where you really need to watch out after each other and opening up that personal safety into a personal group safety.
47:42 A little bit
47:43 And eventually did actually became very as much as you get comfortable with it. Definitely, you know pins and needles.
47:57 Well, at least it's amazing. How time fast how fast time goes we're talking about the stuff. Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you would do if you've been the keeper of an any other stories that you want to share with you at the end.
48:15 Oh so many stars is you just don't know where to begin. I just thought that you don't.
48:22 I'm really proud of what it looks what our group did and
48:27 I think everyone in the group should be very proud of it and keep growing, and you know, we always are a little reluctant to go too much talking about it personally, but I think for the both of us, it's it's a good thing too.
48:45 And even though specific story right now.
48:49 Yeah, I guess I think the other the challenge for me at least this to you know, eventually enough time has passed now we're coming up on what's 70 year anniversary. Is it take a lot of these horrible things that you've seen in the beauty that you seen instead of integrated into your lives and I think that maybe finally you and you and I are stuck to do that a little bit. I think we're actually yeah, that's a good point. I think a lot of that starting to happen on the 7th to the 10th will start time that perspective the time gives and probably the nation well, too.