September 11 anniversary, David Handschuh’s photos and courage

This is just one of many riveting images taken by David Handschuh during the September 11 terrorist attacks, when he was seriously injured.

This is just one of many riveting images taken by David Handschuh during the September 11 terrorist attacks, when he was seriously injured.

Today is the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Dart Center Ochberg Fellow and longtime photographer David Handschuh was there.

He took photographs of the plane flying into the second tower.

He snapped shots of people jumping to their deaths from the building.

Then he heard a low rumbling noise as the second tower start to fall.

Handschuh’s instinct was to raise his camera and make another picture, but instead he ran for his life.

He survived, barely.

Handschuh was blown into the air-he described it later like a beach wave-and under a car.  He sustained serious injuries, including a shattered leg. For a while, a pile of debris covered him.  Every breath he took caused him to suck the debris deeper and deeper into his mouth.  He eventually cleared his mouth and started to scream for help.

Handschuh has said repeatedly and publicly that he considers himself lucky.  To indulge in self-pity would dishonor the memories of the close to 3,000 people who died in the unprecedented terrorist attacks, he said  

He’s said that he was given a second chance.

What’s he’s done with that chance is commendable.

He’s worked on a survey about the impact of trauma on journalists in which hundreds of journalists have participated.

He’s talked about his experience on Mike Walter’s film Breaking News,  Breaking Down and to Roger Simpson and William Cote for their book, Covering Violence: A Guide to Ethical Reporting About Victims & Trauma

He’s also continued to take photographs.

Handschuh was part of a New York Daily News team that did award-winning work about the health problems of first responders after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Each of these actions is testament to his courage and character.

So, on a day when the nation stops and remembers the victims of what previously had seemed an unspeakable tragedy, I will also be thinking of David Handschuh’s values and his heart.

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