Donald E. Sanchez

The 10th Anniversary of September 11th

Like millions of people across the country, I watched in horror as the historic events unfolded on the morning of September 11th, 2001 on my television screen in the comfort of my living room. Shortly afterwards, I was ordered to report to work. I was a New York City Police Officer. Because this event turned into the biggest crime scene in the history of law enforcement in the United States, no cameras or recording equipment of any kind would be allowed on site. Taking photos was not a priority for me, but I recognized the dissonance I would experience as a photographer and not being allowed to take pictures down in Ground Zero. On September 12th, I brought a pocket sized Olympus Stylus that I owned and snapped a few pictures. This was only one of a few.

In the months that followed, I alternated time spent between the Staten Island Landfill searching through tons of debris, and the Chief Medical Examiner's Office of New York City where the remains of the victims were brought for identification. Only one other time did I bring my Olympus camera with me. I regret that I did not have it with me more. Month after month, day after day, and hour after hour, I witnessed the noble commitment and monumental effort of the law enforcement community tirelessly combing through the debris to find a photo, a ring, a driver's license, a lock of hair, something that could be used to provide an answer for a family still unsure of the whereabouts of a loved one.

Over the years, this took a toll on me. For the 10th Anniversary of September 11th, I thought it would be beneficial for me to take my camera and fly back to NYC for the weekend and just shoot. I wanted to do what I could not do ten years before. Things changed in NYC for sure. The pain and somberness of it all still lingered over lower Manhattan, but the construction that had taken place over the years, coupled with the near completion of the new Freedom Tower, re-affirmed the resilience and spirit of the American people.

The crowds came from all over the country and from all around the globe. The following photos were just a fraction of pictures I took that weekend. I hope they are a reminder that we should never forget the events that turned our world upside down in an instant. Where the banilty of evil and the love for humanity went head to head.