Terrorism’s Last Great Divide, Broken Into Three Parts

Sadly, he passed away peacefully at his home at Encino, Calif., surrounded by loved ones. In October 2001, I worked for the Los Angeles Times as a Times photographer, covering the aftermath of the…

Sadly, he passed away peacefully at his home at Encino, Calif., surrounded by loved ones.

In October 2001, I worked for the Los Angeles Times as a Times photographer, covering the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

I will forever remember that day. I was 787 miles away, living in Palm Springs, Calif., but it did not take me long to connect with the events in New York. I was having breakfast at a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard, about 2 ½ miles south of the World Trade Center when I witnessed the terror unfolding before my eyes. From there, I turned my camera to document the small acts of kindness and kindness of New Yorkers.

After that horrific day, I lost all sense of self-preservation. I was consumed with sadness, but also anger and disgust. One New Yorker embraced me, shook my hand and said, “We are here to help.” The American spirit was at a breaking point. I knew that New Yorkers would keep New York strong, although they had to dig themselves out of a terrible hole.

On October 21, 2001, I accompanied Drew Tierney, then the Times’ chief photographer, to Ground Zero. We were still deep in the crush of New Yorkers trying to get on the platform for the high floors. For a few harrowing minutes, we were wedged in, covering our heads to shield ourselves from the air blasts from the burning stairwells, hundreds of people. At one point, the structure shifted so that some of the people in front of us were clinging to the building, with its metal pillars and howling fires, with so much weight that their bodies could not support them any longer. The unexpected voice of a woman’s panic told us to stop moving. We all put one foot in front of the other, in line.

I started to photograph again, then shot a few pictures. One fell on the street and before I looked down, I saw the image of a man losing his left arm. He was on his back, his right arm cradled in his right hand. His torso was still trapped. His face was covered in soot. And now I saw a shoe. The sole of a shoe could be seen poking out from the rubble.

We then worked our way back toward the street, while the mess of lost belongings was piling up around us. The work went on for a long time, and we never got a shot of the thing that saved a man’s life—the shoes. For us, a great photograph also needs a greater one.

In between the ghastly work of documenting the horror and the lives of those in the aftermath, we were drawn to the small acts of kindness. There were times when we walked into a station on Broadway and the manager would stop on the sidewalk and open the cash register for us. In Times Square, one of our regular walkers stopped to give us his business card and treat us like friends. We saw many people jump into action. We saw lawyers, judges, political figures, mothers, dads, young and old, engineers, construction workers, grocery clerks and store clerks offer their lives to help.

The Huffington Post: Editor’s note: Edward Keating was a member of Fox News’ NewsBusters and far-left blogs like Talking Points Memo’s “The Fringe World” and “The King of America.”

Edward Keating was a member of NewsBusters and far-left blogs like Talking Points Memo’s “The Fringe World” and “The King of America.” Also read Fox News contributor Erick Erickson’s post on his “RedState Christmas” commentary. Follow Ed Keating on Twitter @elkeating

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