What happened before this picture was snapped

The word “iconic” is greatly overused nowadays by people with limited vocabularies, but this image IS iconic. It is simultaneously inspiring, tragic, resolute.

As rescue efforts continue in the rubble of the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush, left, stands with New York City firefighter Bob Beckwith during a tour of the devastation, Sept. 13, 2001. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)

Pictured with President George W. Bush atop a crushed New York Fire Department pumper truck amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center towers was retired firefighter Bob Beckwith, who died a few days ago at 91.

God rest his soul.

Look at him — his ladder company helmet firmly on his head, his feet planted apart, eye and breathing equipment dangling from his neck, a hand halfway in the pocket of his blue jeans, his lean chin lifted, his face taut and grim with his eyes focused on the future.

Has there ever been a better portrait of the American Man? 

Why was he there?

With the President, by accident.

At the Pile, as Ground Zero was called, on purpose.

Seven years retired after 30 years on the job, the 69-year-old grabbed his helmet from his old ladder company and raced toward a Lower Manhattan that was shrouded in a shroud of black smoke. He worked long hours on rescue and recovery.

At the Pile, he climbed atop a wrecked fire engine to get a better view of the President, who took a sharp turn to climb the fire engine. Beckwith gave Bush a hand up, and moved to retreat.

“Where are you going? You’re going to be right here with me,” Bush said.

That’s not all he said, with Beckwith at his side.

You remember Bush’s stirring remarks, don’t you? If not, this will refresh your memory.

This was off the top of his head. There was no TelePrompTer. It was from the heart.

And the thing that struck me was the totally comfortable way that he roped his arm around Beckwith’s shoulders. This was a man embracing this blue collar guy as if they were old friends.

In fact, they became new friends.

Bush stayed in touch with him over the years, and sent condolences upon Beckwith’s death.

Beckwith’s courage, he wrote, “represented the defiant, resilient spirit of New Yorkers and Americans.”

Bush never had a moment to equal 9/13, with a bullhorn in his hand, and his arm around Bob Beckwith.

7 thoughts on “What happened before this picture was snapped”

  1. It took just a handful of terrorist to cause all that death and destruction. Now we have a president who has allowed millions of unvetted illegal immigrants to roam the country. I know the great majority of these people are just seeking a better life. But just imagine if just 1percent of these people are up to no good. God help us.

    1. Well then how ’bout if your idiot friends in the Republican Party pass the bi-partisan immigration bill THEY put together? No, they’d rather have a manufactured crisis to crow about to hurt the current administration instead of actually doing something about it, which is exactly what that bill would have done. I have no idea how someone like you justifies such a thing. Look in a mirror. Maybe you can find a brain in there, but I highly doubt it.

  2. Photo Op’s suck! How many people died then, and how many people are dying now? Three of my wife’s family were there. Three have major breathing issues. Two were denied benefits because only one was a firefighter, the other two were Law enforcement. Some Photo Op! Keep sending condolences, it will keep you busy. In years to come, Biden too.

    1. Photo ops are planned. This was spontaneous.
      You seem to be blaming the firefighter, who received my condolences, when, in fact, he volunteered to help at Ground Zero.

      1. Exactly the opposite, it’s the government I blame, I would NEVER blame a Firefighter , or a Police Officer Stu. I knew more than one that responded to 911, both from NY and Philadelphia. Please understand where I stand. Until the day that I die I will be Pro Police and Fire. I’m sorry that you misunderstood me.

    2. Wow. That’s terrible. I was under the impression that all first responders got compensation. Something should be done to fix that. Is anything in the works? Let me know and I will write my legislators. I lived in NYC for a while, and have friends who were in the city (not at the site) on 9/11. I visited ground zero (after it was fenced off and settled) just to take it in.

      I’m not sure why you mention Biden though. Only one democrat voted against 9/11 compensation. 30 Republicans, including many stars of the MAGA movement voted against it in 2022.

      Andy Biggs, Arizona, Dan Bishop, North Carolina, Lauren Boebert, Colorado, Mo Brooks, Alabama, Ken Buck, Colorado, Tim Burchett, Tennessee, Michael Cloud, Texas, Andrew Clyde, Georgia, James Comer, Kentucky, Dan Crenshaw, Texas, Warren Davidson, Ohio, Louie Gohmert, Texas, Mark Green, Tennessee, Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin, Andy Harris, Maryland, Diana Harshbarger, Tennessee, Jody Hice, Georgia, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri, Thomas Massie, Kentucky, Greg Murphy, North Carolina, Troy Nehls, Texas, Ralph Norman, South Carolina, Bill Posey, Florida
      And, Senator Mike Lee, and other GOP’rs wanted to limit the compensation period to only 10 years.

      MAGA rules: if you vote for border security under Biden, you’ll get primaried. Vote against 9/11 first responders, you get an endorsement.

      And don’t forget the 2010 bill, which was passed by 251 Democrats and only 17 Republicans. 160 Republicans voted against it, with only three Democrats voting against it.

      You’ll be happy to know however, that Trump applied for and received $150,000 in “small business” 9/11 compensation for “repairs and lost rent” to his property. At least his sacrifice didn’t go uncompensated.

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