Union Square by Abraham Menashe - Part 1


On September 11th 2001, an act of terrorism destroyed two tall towers in New York 
City while thousands of civilians were trapped inside. This catastrophe left the 
American heart profoundly wounded, yet ignited a fierce national pride along with a
resolve to embrace life fully. The images in this essay focus on the emotions of 
the living and bear witness to their grief and aspirations in the weeks that
Most of the photographs were made in Union Square, where memorial candles burned 
and flyers with faces of the missing were posted. New Yorkers gathered there to 
walk in silence, offer flowers, and absorb the immensity of this event. The 
solemnity of the activities transformed the square into hallowed ground, giving 
people permission to cry and hug one another there.

As the vigil continued, citizens from across the country came to pay homage, to 
pray, and tape life-affirming messages on the surrounding fences. Thousands of 
candles burned twenty-four hours a day infusing the air with the heavy scent of 
melting wax. The odor took me to Portugal, where I had been years earlier 
photographing pilgrims who lit candles and prayed for healing at the shrine of 

Emigrants make up the fabric of America. Whatever their country of origin or 
individual belief, once here, they are integrated into the American family. 
When this massacre occurred, every person experienced a direct loss, as if a 
member of their own family was among the dead. The overwhelming majority of 
casualties were civilians—nationals of over 90 countries. The attack was not 
against America but against the global human family.
As the towers fell, New Yorkers rose up. This extraordinary event unleashed 
expressions of civility and philanthropy that were truly transforming. While we 
may not comprehend the forces that cause men, in their prime, to incinerate their 
bodies along with thousands of innocent civilians, we take comfort in the 
countless acts of generosity and kindness displayed by ordinary people in the 
aftermath of this tragedy. With each new hour, yet another story emerges of how 
one individual made a difference in the life of another. Each deed, let loose by 
the better angels of our nature, is a victory over fear, and affirms a power far 
greater than the darkness of that horrific Tuesday. The effects of this collective 
goodness continues to eclipse the dark clouds of that day.

These photographs were made in honor of this human nobility, and as such, form a 
prayer, reminding us that life is exquisitely fragile. Through simple deeds of 
kindness we honor the fallen heroes, sanctify the memory of the innocent, and
mend a broken world.

Abraham Menashe
New York City, 2001

Union Square; A Harvest of Grief and Hope
Abraham Menashe
Xlibris, © 2001
Over the next four days leading up to the 10-yr anniversary of 9/11 we will present more 
photographs from this series.  


mrurbano said…
A unique and personal document. Many thanks Mr Menashe for sharing it with the readers of 591 Photography.
mrurbano said…
Many people will remember what they were doing that day and when the news spread around the world. I was on an airplane at the time of the attacks (of all places) flying from London to Stockholm. No news reached us there.
We had left Barcelona early in the morning. I was with my two eldest children and we had spent some time in southern Catalunya. I think I thought about the date since it was the day of the military coup in Chile and also the Day of Catalunya.

When we reached the airport in Stockholm and was entering the bus, someone said - "and Pentagon has been attacked too". It was surreal.