9/11 20th Anniversary Photo Exhibit to feature WKU student and faculty work from 2001 terrorist attack

Robert Garmet and his son Eric Garmet, 10, of New York, NY, held candles at a vigil in Union Square in lower Manhattan Friday night. The park has become a spot for people to meet and grieve in the weeks following the attack on the World Trade Centers.

It was September 11, 2001.

Within a few hours after the World Trade Center towers fell and took a piece of America’s heart with them, Western Kentucky University photojournalism students packed their cars with photography gear and headed north in search of answers. These students were not sure what they would find in New York, they just knew they had to be there. By the week’s end, two faculty had joined them.

What they found was not just a story about smoldering buildings and twisted metal. They found stories about the people who worked in these buildings, the rescuers trying to save them, and the family and friends waiting to hear about the fate of their loved ones. By the following week, the WKU team was back at school with thousands of photographs and one goal: to share their stories with as many people as they could.

Twenty years later their images still resonate with us, even haunt us. We are reminded of the profound emotional toll September 11, 2001, had on our country. The images represent despair, but also hope and resilience.

On Friday (Sept. 10), Ridley and Hull Wealth Management Group of Stifel, and The WKU School of Media will host an open house from noon to 4 p.m. at the Pushin Building at 400 E. Main St., Suite 100 in Bowling Green. Remarks will be at 1 p.m.

The exhibit of 28 images will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays through the month of September.

Professor James Kenney, coordinator of the Photojournalism program at WKU, was one of the teachers who joined his students in New York in the aftermath of September 11. He expressed mixed emotions about his experience there and in seeing these images exhibited again 20 years later.

“These images bring back unsettling memories of the pain, suffering, and uncertainty borne out of this terrible day,” he said. “But they also represent the determination of my students to do their part in providing a visual reminder so that a nation would not forget, and perhaps in some meaningful way contribute to its healing.”

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