Famous flag photo almost excluded as too ‘rah rah America’ for 9/11 museum

The famous photograph of New York firefighters raising the American flag out of the wreckage at Ground Zero was almost excluded from the new 9/11 Memorial Museum because it was deemed – (and this is not a joke) – too “rah-rah” America.

According to a new book coming out soon by author Elizabeth Greenspan, several of the museum’s staff considered the iconic photo “too kitschy and ‘rah rah America,’” the New York Post reported Sunday.

“I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently,” the museum’s creative director Michael Shulan said.

“My concern, as it always was, is that we not reduce [9/11] down to something that was too simple, and in its simplicity would actually distort the complexity of the event, the meaning of the event,” Shulan told The Post.

Incredibly, a “compromise” was reached, Greenspan wrote, and “three different photos via three different angles of the flag-raising scene,” is what was ultimately chosen to be included in the museum, the article said.

“Several images undercut the myth of ‘one iconic moment,’” chief curator Jan Ramirez said, “and suggest instead an event from multiple points of view, like the attacks more broadly,” the book says, according to The Post.

New Jersey’s “The Record” photographer Thomas E. Franklin took the picture on September 11, 2001 and has given many interviews about it over the years.

In “Icons: The Photo Seen ‘Round The World,’” Franklin said:

I made the picture standing underneath what may have been one of the elevated walkways, possibly the one that had connected the World Trade plaza and the World Financial Center. As soon as I shot it, I realized the similarity to the famous image of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.

This was an important shot. It told more than just death and destruction. It said something to me about the strength of the American people and of those firemen having to battle the unimaginable.

I find myself questioning – besides loyalty to the U.S. – whether people who feel like Shulan and Ramirez do about that most symbolic photo of American resiliance  should be employed by the museum.


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