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Ground zero

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The morning of September 11, 2001 was a time that changed our world forever. Nineteen terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial jet airliners and intentionally crashed two of them into the World Trade Centre in New York City. A third went into the Pentagon in Virginia and the fourth crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.

A total of 2974 people, predominantly civilians, died as an immediate result of the attacks and another 24 are missing, presumed dead.

Gary Suson, an actor-playwright residing in Manhattan, began photographing the devastated World Trade Center site on the morning of September 11. In November of that year he was appointed its official photographer and spent around 17 hours every day documenting every phase of the recovery.

He had strict guidelines — not to release any images until the recovery was over, not to shoot images of human remains and to share any proceeds with September 11 charities.

He was not paid by anyone and when a fire union delegate who was receiving complimentary immunotherapy and vitamin drips at a holistic clinic discovered Mr Suson had arranged that, an impromptu meeting led to the photographer having full and unrestricted access to every area of Ground Zero.

Rather than random filming, Mr Suson chose to focus on getting to know the people who ran the WTC site. At first, firemen were uneasy with his presence. They feared he may have been exploiting the sacred site, but once they got to know him they changed their opinions … helped along by not seeing any of his images in newspapers. That spoke volumes to them and slowly he was welcomed into the Ground Zero 'brotherhood' and even permitted to document the private Honor Guards.

Stephen Zaderiko, a Battalion Chief, took Mr Suson under his wing and spent time showing him aspects of the site, how to dig and what to look for in the way of remains. Another Battalion Chief, Jim Riches, lost his son in the tragedy, and while the gentle giant spoke little, when he did it mattered. When he finally found his fireman son's body, it was one of the most moving and memorable moments for everyone.

Ground Zero Museum Workshop is a display of Gary Suson's intimate photographs of the event. Also on display are jagged steel beams, marble from the lobby and pieces of glass. Tours last around 90 minutes and, on some days, Gary Suson conducts them. Firefighters and tour guides run them on other days.

Location

New York City.

Cost

The Ground Zero Museum Workshop has 1½ hour tours for around $23 for adults and $19 for children. They can be booked through viator.com and tours operate on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Friday. Funds cover operating costs and are shared with the GDNY and other related charities. Viator products are available in Australia through the phone number below.

Air New Zealand has flights to Los Angeles with connections to New York.

From fare
Sydney
$2388
Melbourne
$2468
Brisbane
$2478
Adelaide
$2688
Perth
$2870

Valid for travel between November 1 to December 9, 2007.

For more information

For more information on New York go to www.nycvisit.com

Viator.com
Website: www.viator.com
Email: support@viator.com

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
Website: www.airnewzealand.com.au

Related links

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