Those horrifying sights from September 11, 2001, are still fresh in our minds: the burning twin towers, people coated in dust and soot as they fled the area, our first responders and other heroes who rushed in to save as many lives as they could.
These images have become etched into our memories. Twenty years later, the photographers and subjects of these photographs have come out to various news sources about their respective experiences in these photographs.
Yoni Brook, a 19-year-old sophomore at New York University at the time of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, spoke to Fox News about his experiences. Brook had previously done some freelancing work for The Washington Post, and he claims that his editors called him to see whether he would be interested in covering the attacks. Brook gathered his belongings and made his way toward the devastation.
“I sort of found myself – this was maybe an hour after the collapse – just there, kind of alone, seemingly alone,” Brook told Fox. “It was just like everybody was in shock around it. There were a few firefighters, there were a few rescue people, but it was mostly very quiet and eerie for the first two hours.”
In a photo, Brook captured a picture of Michael Sauer, a volunteer firefighter from Woodmere, Long Island, while he was drinking water from an adjacent fire hydrant.
Iconic 9/11 photos and the photographers who shot them: Here are their stories https://t.co/gLarT1ooSi
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 11, 2021
“It was still sort of a moment of initial shock,” Brook told Fox. “There was an eerie quiet. And there wasn’t like a ton of equipment down there. There weren’t cranes doing any work yet. It was just individual firefighters and groups of firefighters trying to make sense of a little bit of the futility of what was in front of them.”
The Wall Street Journal spoke to Sauer, who still gets choked up talking about his experiences on that day.
“You’re walking around and listening for anyone banging or any sign of life,” Mr. Sauer told the Journal. “That’s what you’re there for, to try to help and hopefully get someone to safety.”
“It wasn’t like there was a water fountain you could go to,” Sauer told the Journal. “This thing was just standing out there by itself with water coming out of it.”
“We have this bond,” Sauer told the outlet. “It’s just a bond of that day, and him putting me in history.”
“To me, it feels like it was just the other day,” he added. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it.”
Photojournalist Doug Mills photographed the iconic images of former President George W. Bush at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where he was informed of the terrorist attack. The news of a "small plane crash in New York City" came to Mills while he was in Bush's motorcade on his way to the school, he told Fox News. However, the information was "really sketchy," he said, "basically saying that there's been a small plane that's hit a building." He stated that it didn't appear to be a major deal.
Bush's chief of staff, Andy Card, entered the room minutes after they arrived at the school and informed the president of the devasting news.
“Finally, at one point he walked up to the president… and whispered in his ear,” Mills told Fox. “It was obvious he’d given him some very important news.”
Mills didn’t know what Card said at the time but later learned the chief of staff told Bush: “A second aircraft has just hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack.”
Mills told Fox that the “power and the weight of those words are obviously overwhelming and obviously very historic.”