Wednesday, September 14, 2016

David Handschuh experiences 9/11

Jacob Solether

It was difficult trying to grasp and fully understand what exactly David Handschuh experienced on September 11, 2001. Not because he didn't do a good job at explaining it, but that he actually witnessed the attacks first-hand and survived to tell the story.

At Ohio University's campus David Handschuh spoke in front of an audience of students and faculty about his recap of 9/11. Handschuh began his story by telling the audience it felt like an ordinary day. He mentioned how beautiful it was outside, with no humidity and that you could feel Autumn setting in. At the time, he was a professor working at NYU as well as a photojournalist for the The New York Daily News. He explained to us how he used his car as an office and that he was on his way to teach a class when the first plane hit. He remembers hearing the fire department and police radio scanners sending out alerts and then suddenly he received a call from the newsroom telling him he better get down there to capture some photos. He then immediately canceled his class and rushed down to the scene. Once Handschuh arrived at the World Trade Centers he saw a firefighter with a news camera strapped to his shoulder. This image is something I'm still thinking about and trying to picture in my head. He then told us his friend entered the bottom floor to help rescue survivors and sadly, this would be the last time he ever saw him because it moments later the first tower collapsed. Through all the madness he managed to hold on to his two cameras while capturing some intense, graphic photos. Handschuh spoke about his emotions and said he's upset about a lot things that happened that day, but the two main things that have stuck with him over the years are that he wishes he would've taken one last photo of his friend that day and that he wishes he signed the NYC Fire Department's login books.

Handschuh ended the presentation talking about what he endured following 9/11 and what it takes to be a journalist. He gave a heartfelt speech about journalists sticking together and said, "There's something genetic that makes us do this sort of stuff." He also noted he needed counseling after what he experienced on 9/11 and warned the audience of the mental and emotional problems he has battled during his time as a journalist. He compared journalism to the surgeon general's warning on the side of cigarette packs, explaining there are risks journalists take in order to do their job and that we need to be prepared for it. The crowd was left speechless at the end of the presentation when he asked for questions.

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