Free World - September 15, 2021

Thousands of photos captured the horror and heroism of 9/11. Now, 20 years after…


Thousands of photos captured the horror and heroism of 9/11. Now, 20 years after the attacks, survivors and witnesses who appeared in some of the most compelling images tell their stories.⁠⁠
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• Photos 1 & 2: Volunteer firefighter Michael B Sauer, gets choked up when he talks about the day he spent searching for signs of life in what firefighters dubbed “the pile” at Ground Zero. The then-34-year-old was rinsing grit from his mouth when he looked up and saw someone taking his picture.⁠⁠
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He’s still a volunteer firefighter, and at least once a year, around the 9/11 anniversary, he sends a text to Yoni Brook, the photographer who took the picture. “We have this bond,” Sauer says. “It’s just a bond of that day, and him putting me in history.”⁠⁠
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• Photos 2 & 3: Joanne Capestro was working on the 87th floor of the North Tower, about six floors down from where a plane flew into the building. The 39-year-old made it outside just as the South Tower collapsed and dove under an SUV. “I really thought I had died,” she recalls.⁠⁠
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Capestro saw a colleague, and the pair clung to one another when photographer Phil Penman snapped their photo. In 2014, a curator at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum introduced Capestro to Penman, who she later asked to photograph her wedding. She is grateful that he documented her experience on 9/11, especially as it recedes further into the past. “They don’t realize what I went through,” she says. “They don’t realize what I saw.”⁠⁠
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• Photos 5 & 6: Dominic Guadagnoli was a deputy U.S. Marshal working several blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11 when he rushed to the scene and helped carry a victim to an ambulance.⁠⁠
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Shortly afterward, the 32-year-old saw the South Tower come roaring down and wondered if the ambulance had made it. “All I could think about was her,” he recalls.⁠⁠
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Through contacts, he was able to learn that she had survived and later met her and her husband for lunch. Every 9/11, he sends her flowers.⁠⁠
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Read more at the link in our bio.⁠⁠
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📷: Yoni Brook (1, 2), Phil Penman (3, 4), Gulnara Samoilova (5), Colin Hackley (6)⁠⁠



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