September 11th photos bring back memories

Noted photographer Joel Meyerowitz was the only Press allowed free access to Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Meyerowitz took more than 8,000 photos of the nine month recovery and cleanup effort. He chose 30 of them for an exhibit called “Aftermath: Inside the Forbidden City”, which is traveling the world. The photos are now on display at Otterbein College’s Miller Gallery.

When entering the Miller Gallery on the Otterbein College campus, visitors speak in hushed voices; the mood almost reverent. Thirty large photos, some four feet in height, hang on the gallery’s blank walls – snapshots of history. The collection, taken by Joel Meyerowitz, is called “Aftermath: Inside the Forbidden City.”

Robert and Aileene Porter study the pictures of the smoldering and twisted metal – the remains of what used to be the two tallest buildings in the world.

“It’s kind of hard to believe that the towers fell. I mean, having worked there when they built them, and to see them fall it’s just hard to believe that, that really happened,” Robert Porter said.

Robert and his wife, Aileene, grew up on Staten Island and lived in New York for 45 years. The couple moved to Westerville 25 years ago, but The Big Apple remained dear to their hearts.

Like many others, seeing photos of the devastation brings back memories about September 11th. The Porters were away on a cruise when they heard about the attacks.

“We couldn’t understand why we weren’t leaving our port. And then the TV, it showed it, and I could not believe it,” Aileene Porter said.

Otterbein chair of the artist series, Kate Pourbcansky, said while the photos are a great representation of Ground Zero, they show much more.

“You really get some of the human component of the tragedy and what happened. The pictures of the rescuers, and the work that they did has really come to life in the work, and so that was really important,” Pourbcansky said.

Even though the exhibit has been open only a week, Pourbcansky said it has already been well received.

“I did hear a story already of someone who was very moved. They had a family member who was in the Twin Towers, and who survived. But I think this kind of brought back some of that feeling,” Pourbcansky said.

Robert Porter has his own personal story to tell or at least the ones his relatives have told him.

“I have a lot of cousins who live in New York, and they work in downtown Manhattan. They told us that they were running, you know they were evacuating the buildings. And they came out into the street and they couldn’t even see where they were going with the dust. And they just, what’s happening, what happened, where to go, which way, how to get out of here,” Robert Porter said.

While the photos may conjure up feelings some may want to suppress, Porter said they’re important to see.

“Well, I guess it just refreshes your memory of what really happened there. And I thinks that’s important, that people see the devastation,” Porter said.

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