'Ground Zero' photo exhibit pays tribute to 9/11

August 31, 2011 5:30:58 AM PDT
The tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11 is coming up in less than two weeks. Some moving photos from that day are on exhibit for the very first time at Chicago's Field Museum.

When almost 3,000 people are murdered the memories die hard . The "Ground Zero: 360 Degrees" exhibit is a perfect example of that. It's Irish photo journalist Nicola McClean's look at that terrible day.

McClean was on assignment that day in New York. Her husband now, Paul McCormack, at the time was a commanding officer with the New York Police Department. This show is their tribute to 9/11.

"I knew that I was photographing a major world event when I was taking the pictures. I made a promise to myself that day down there in the dust clouds that I was going to do something with those pictures," said McClean.

She took over 2,000 photos that day and the next. The exhibit features about 100 of her best. She remembers it all very clearly, especially the firemen and their faces.

"You could see on their faces. You didn't have to ask them. I didn't dare approach them. They were doing their job. But you could see the pain on their faces that quite possibly nobody was going to come out of that mess alive," said McClean.

September 11, 2001 is one of those days that is impossible to forget. But it's also difficult to remember because it hurts so much when we look back. So why are we doing this?

"People have very short memories nowadays. But there are generations that are coming after us that need to know what happened out there, need to know the sacrifices that were made. That's what this exhibition is about. To keep the memory alive," said Paul McCormack.

There is granite from the World Trade Center and posters of those missing on that day, memorials to a fallen firefighter and policeman, and 17 photos pieced together into a 360 degree frozen memory.

"At that point in time, I felt like an Irish woman in New York until September 11th. That was really the first time I felt like an American," said McClean.

The show opens this Saturday and runs through January 2.

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