The 9/11 Decade: The spontaneous snapshot that has endured in a German woman’s life

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 – Globe and Mail

She still isn’t sure what compelled her to do it. Why, standing in bewilderment with her colleagues by the Flatiron Building near 23rd Street, they chose to take pictures of each other as the Twin Towers smoked in the distance.

And as she turned toward the camera, she didn’t know what to do with the muscles in her face. Some of the books and blogs that reposted the photo called it a “Mona Lisa” look. Others wondered how she could appear so clueless to the gravity of the events unfolding behind her.

“I didn’t get what was happening. Definitely not then,” she says. “For me, the focus was much more personal – on me and my belly, and not on the Twin Towers.”

Continue reading

The 9/11 decade: A shared moment of crisis, and the anguish that remained

Monday, August 29, 2011 – Globe and Mail

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. — It wasn’t until she collapsed outside the building that the pain took over.

Throughout the 78-storey trek to the bottom of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, Donna Spera was unaware of her surroundings, the passage of time or her own condition.

She remembers blood on the stairs, but didn’t think it was hers. She recalls crawling over an elevator smashed through the stairwell, but not how her legs became lacerated. She couldn’t figure out why a friend wrapped his shirt around her hand.

But once outside, she became aware of the scorched and melted skin on her arms and back; of her gashed knees, shattered hand and bloody scalp. And that’s when Dominic Guadagnoli grabbed her.

Continue reading