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9/11: A Year After / WHO WE ARE NOW

Joel Meyerowitz

The photographer , 64, worked for nine months at ground zero.

September 11, 2002

"I had this clear understanding that without pictures, we were going to be denied a history.

I called the director of the Museum of the City of New York. I said, "I'm going to get myself into this site and make an archive and give it to the people of the city of New York, but I need your help. I want a letter validating what I am doing.'

Every scam in the books was being used to get into the site, but the letter was an asset and, with the help of a friend, who was a city commissioner, I [got] a worker's pass. Over time, I became a permanent member of the crew and the unofficial--now official, I guess--artist in residence. I did it because I thought, 'They can't take this history away from us. Why should we see the event on television for 24 hours and then nothing? No history in our nation of this magnitude should go unrecorded.'

It was truly a great privilege to be with those people down there. The dead will never come back, but the effort made to find them was magnificent and heroic. To the very last day, there were men on their knees, scraping away with garden rakes, looking through every last bit of rubble for a bone or a ring or a belt."

*

As told to

Suzanne Muchnic

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