Photographer Tom Franklin wasn’t even supposed to be in the newsroom that morning.
He’d been in the Dominican Republic for a baseball project and had stopped by to talk to his editor at The Record, a newspaper then based in Hackensack, New Jersey, and now part of the USA TODAY Network. They were discussing the assignment when someone interrupted with the news that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.
Franklin joined the rush of journalists to Jersey City to document history from across the Hudson River. He’d spend most of the day with a clear view of the Manhattan skyline, before boarding a boat to lower Manhattan.
One of the images he captured that afternoon would become among the most recognizable photos in history.
He saw firefighters “fumbling” with an American flag near where the Twin Towers had fallen and fired off a burst of photos.
The photo of the three firefighters raising that flag in a show of fortitude and respect, against a backdrop of unfathomable devastation, has become one of the most identifiable images taken on September 11, 2001. It permeates social media each anniversary. It’s been recreated for calendars and ended up on shirts. It was even made into a postage stamp.
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