Inside Media: 9/11 Devastation and Determination
Guests: Mike Forcucci and Tom Franklin
Sept. 11, 2001, began as an ordinary work day for Mike Forcucci, a news photographer at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., and Tom Franklin, a staff photographer at The Bergen Record in New Jersey. But each man abruptly found himself documenting a horrifying scene of destruction.
Forcucci said he was removing gear from his car in a Pentagon parking lot when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building a few hundred yards from where he stood. The deafening sound was followed by an odd silence, he recalled.
Forcucci had expected to videotape a press conference but within moments began recording footage of fierce flames and billowing black smoke pouring from a mangled hole in the building while people gathered in confusion.
"It was surreal," he said. "I think people were in a state of shock."
Franklin, meanwhile, was documenting the scene at the World Trade Center, first from New Jersey, where victims of the attacks began arriving at a triage center. Later, as photos he had shot were still downloading onto his laptop in his car, he hitched a ride on a boat headed across the Hudson River to lower Manhattan.
He used the few minutes he had before landing at the World Trade Center site to collect his thoughts and emotions. He needed to keep focused on doing his job, capturing images and documenting an important historic event, he said.
After photographing the destruction at Ground Zero, Franklin was about to leave when he noticed three firefighters attaching an American flag to a pole that jutted from the mounds of gray wreckage. Of the nearly 20 frames he shot, one photograph became recognized around the world as a symbol of American perseverance — and for its similarity to a photo of Marines raising a flag at Iwo Jima during World War II.
When asked about how it feels to have shot an iconic photo that will outlive generations, Franklin paused.
"It's humbling," he said.
"Inside Media," produced by the Newseum, is open to the public. Seating is on a space-available basis.