Ground Zero



911: Ground Zero, 10/03/2001.

Original Caption: A worker stands at Ground Zero in New York City.

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: P8026-16

Created By: President (2001-2009 : Bush). Office of Management and Administration. Office of White House Management. Photography Office. (01/20/2001 – 01/20/2009) From: Photographs Related to the George W. Bush Administration, compiled 01/20/2001 – 01/20/2009 Production Dates: 10/3/2001


When I browsed the National Archive Flickr page, I found a set called American Spirit Renewed, showing hundreds of pictures of American pride and national vitality. This picture caught my eye because in a sea of red, white and blue, this picture was one of few without a blatant waving American flag. The flag in this picture is subtle; a subtle sign of the life force that kept the country going after the attacks in New York City. The hard hat most probably had the flag already on it but never before the capture of the picture had the tiny symbol meant more. As the worker gazes over the wreckage of Ground Zero, the photographer and photo viewer receive the sentiment of the events tragedy and the revitalized spirit of the US. The picture is a quiet piece of propaganda for nationalism and recovery.



11 thoughts on “Ground Zero”

  1. Yeah, I love the fact that you chose a non-canonical picture of ground zero. This one does not immediately evoke any sense of patriotism or jingoism. You just get a sense of the enormous physical task of cleanup facing this guy. It does not give us some strained sense of heroism or sacrifice. Just hard damn work. Why do you think so much of the press, however, focused on more iconic images? Why do people seem to need the overt patriotism, rather than, say, a focus more on the humanity rather than the nationality the victims?

  2. I love this picture because it really captures the spirit of the country after the attack. The terrorists flew planes into the world trade center as an attempt to destroy whatever pride or spirit the country had, an attempt to demoralize America. Although Americans were devastated at first, it didn’t break the spirit of the country. Instead it did the opposite, it united the country in the face of a new enemy. To me the worker in that picture symbolizes the determination of the country because in time they would build the Freedom Tower in the place of the two that fell on 9/11.

  3. I think this picture is very moving. The man in the photo to me represents the somberness of the American people during this tragic time. You see the debris and it is very clear that there is a job to be done and the construction worker has no choice but to be strong and to persevere as did the American people.

  4. This picture is taken from a different prospective than the one we are accustomed to seeing. This picture is taken from the lens of a construction worker. If I did not know this was a photograph of 911 I would believe that this is an image of a building that was intentionally demolished to make room for a new one. The picture give you a sense of a new beginning and a fresh start.

  5. As someone from Manhattan who actually saw the second tower collapse, this image touches extremely close to heart. Although it reminds me of that catastrophic day like all other 9/11 images, it mostly reminds me of how I felt in regards to how New York City’s skyline changed in an instance. The clear hole in the sky behind the rubble brings back to mind the sentiment of having to fill both a physical and symbolic hole in our city’s skyline.

  6. To me, this picture is awesome. I have always been amazed when hearing about the stories of people helping during the incident on 9/11 and after the towers collapsed. This simple image that shows a worker faced with the incredibly difficult task of cleaning up this tragedy, who still understands he must help, is inspirational. It shows the courage of a great city and its willingness to find some light in a time of such darkness. The other thing I noticed was the American Flag on the back of the worker’s helmet. This to me shows how our nation’s pride can never be defeated even after such a devastating loss. As cliché as it may sound this photo makes me prude to be an American.

  7. I love that in this picture the worker is just standing there, taking the destruction in. He seems to be overwhelmed by this daunting task. His inaction in this photo leads the viewer to believe he is having a “what now?” moment. This is what many Americans felt as well because it was the first time a terrorist attack happened to that magnitude and it caused us to rethink the security measures of our country.

  8. This photo really instills a significant sense of frustration and anxiety, even without knowing the full context of the photo. Mainly coming from the fact that this man seems to have to fulfill a harsh and unforgiving task in front of him. As for what ‘Trout’ asked, I believe the press focused on more iconic images because it led to their respective media outlets to getting more views, in addition to the fact that individual reporters may have been biased to certain photos that invoked patriotism. As if these iconic photos represented hope for these reporters.

  9. I think that this post currently stands with the most comments because unlike most of the other posts, this is an event that we all lived through. This post can touch everyone personally, almost everyone who was old enough, even if we were only five years old, can recount exactly where they were when the towers went down. The American flag is what kept hope in our nation, seeing red, white and blue hanging in every crevice of the country represented our unity and our unbreakable tenacity to move forward as a nation. After an event like this it is easy to cast blame and have constant fear but America took 9/11 and made it a turning point. We showed the world what nation was strong even in the most tragic of times. I believe there was a need for overt patriotism because that is what represents America, a country whose citizens are proud and united. I do not see this image as much for the man looking out into a daunting task but that he is an American and would do anything to help pick up the pieces to bring our nation back on its feet.

  10. Did the nationwide patriotism peak after 9/11 hurt America or help us pull together as a nation. I would argue both. 9/11 catalyzed the US as a nation however was this not misguided. Those who believed in Islam suddenly became our enemies regardless of guilt and as a result we gained many enemies who otherwise might have been considered allies. This resulted in a conflict in the wrong country and a trillion dollar deficit all because believers of Islam became our enemy. However following 9/11 the US had the most substantial foreign policy overhaul since WW2 and we became far more active on a global scale, but was it worth the cost?

  11. I must say that this is one of the more moving pictures that has been posted during this discussion. I am not a hundred percent sure why, but initially this photo made me think of the American Dream. The American Dream as I see it stands for new beginnings and defining oneself after previous hardship. When I examine this photograph and see this worker (or volunteer or firefighter or whatever position he may hold) look into the wreckage, or rather look beyond the wreckage at the unscathed edifices just past ground zero with his American flag labeled hard-hat, it gives me hope and shows that he is ready to pursue the American Dream and rebuild from what has been taken down. Looking at the mass destruction in the mid-groud of the photograph, this individual knows that both he and his country have tough times ahead of them but that with effort and determination rebirth is possible.

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