My personal memorial for
the World Trade Center

A photographic tribute 
made for my American friends



WTC with love


Dear American friends

My heart grieves for the thousands of victims in this tragedy.
But somehow also for the WTC itself.  I witnessed the construction of the WTC in 1973 - and must have felt it needed a lot of love when I took this photo from New Jersey. The buildings always greeted me with a warm thrilling sensation from this angle when I came "home" to New York after long trips in the South - first as a hitchhiker, since as a campus lecturer.  

20 years later - in 1993 - friendly Arabs rented the space next to mine in my storage space in Jersey City, where I store my photo equipment. Having sometimes talked to them, I was naturally in deep chock when I learned they had mixed the nitrate bomb with which they blew up the WTC right next to my room.  I had to cancel several lectures while the FBI sealed off the building to prevent the left over material from detonating the whole area.  I wrote more about that in my Christmas letter that year (in Danish).  




Vibeke, Lalou and Sigrid

During my spring tour this year my wife Vibeke, my daughter Lalou and my mother-in-law Sigrid, came over to see me in the US and were visiting the top of the WTC. They usually never buy such trivial tourist pictures - captured by an automatic camera. So in the days after the catastrophe it was strange to have a picture which in such short time had become historic.

My own farewell to the WTC was also recorded. Two Danish photographers, who were making a movie about my life in America, photographed me with the WTC in the background and driving toward it. In another shot they panned from the WTC down to me as I stepped out of J & R Music World into a taxi with my new computer - the laptop which I am right now making this web page on during one of my slideshows in a Danish school - unable to focus on anything but the WTC these days. 
Here is the - under any other circumstances - totally uninteresting sequence:

Start Over


The WTC was popular in movies. In a previous movie made about "American Pictures" for Danish TV, the entire ending of the movie was built up around the WTC and the Statue of Liberty as seen in this sequence: (roll Real Player forward until  Patricia's song  or see the entire movie here


I was in Africa when the tragedy occurred.  For 3 days I tried to email Christina with whom I  share an apartment not far from the WTC. From up here we always enjoyed the view of the WTC to the south and the Empire State to the north. Christina (seen here) recently photographed me playing with the cat there. The WTC is seen through the window in the background. The beautiful view was for long such a natural ingredient of our interior decoration, that Christina asked me to include it on this memorial page, but right now I couldn't find a better picture than this one:

Our daily view of the WTC

I worried about Christina's safety for 3 days after the attack until her own email account of the tragedy finally reached me in Africa.

When I came back to Denmark, my daughter and thousands of other school children had spread flowers and home made art pieces on the pavement in front of the American embassy. It was strange. I had never in my life seen a PRO-American demonstration there.


Flowers in front of American embassy in Copenhagen

Text below: "..... the Danish people will always be with you....."

Dear American Brothers and Sisters. May peace, love and understanding be with you. The Danish people will always be with you. May God be with you.


But the tragedy forces us to reflect on what mistakes we have done. Susan Sontag's wise words in The New Yorker are being circulated widely in Denmark and Germany as is Edward Said's comments on WTC, Dalai Lama's Dear friends and Madeleine Bunting's Intolerant liberalism.



Car wreck outside the WTC Pigeons on lamp pole outside

Have we been too busy for too long heaping up personal material wealth ........while a population bomb ticks on the outside?

Junkie shooting up with WTC in background

Have we been ignoring or ghettoizing people around us for too long .......
as with this junkie I photographed shooting up on a roof top close to the WTC ?


5000 cops march through Jersey City with WTC behind

Are we forgetting the anger we cause when we marginalize people both at home or in the Third World ? Here I photographed 5000 cops marching through the ghetto in a display of power after a white policeman's murder. He had been beating a black woman when a young man in hurt and anger shot him down from a roof top close to the WTC seen in the back. 


I heard about the attack on the car radio of my Land Cruiser in the dessert of Namibia while these bare breasted Himba tribes women lined up to see themselves in my mirrors - perhaps the only mirrors they had ever seen!  See more Himba photos here.

Perhaps this shocking and contrasting framework  explained why I heard almost all Africans say the day after the disaster: "My heart goes out for the innocent American victims..........., but....."  Always with this "but" a little later followed by a long list of examples of the betrayal they feel of America towards the world's  poor in recent years, the refusal in the midst of unprecedented American prosperity to redistribute some of its wealth, to pay for the UN, to commit towards the common world causes such as the environment (in Rio, Kyoto etc), for withdrawing from the Racism Conference in South Africa, etc.  So let us work together to help avoid that we now build up a FORTRESS AMERICA and a FORTRESS EUROPE which in the long run would be doomed to failure as the vulnerable WTC showed: - costly missile shields will perhaps protect us from terrorist missiles, but never from the population bomb of world poverty. 

We all feel quite powerless now. In my own powerlessness I decided to share my own fond memories and photos of the WTC with you. 

With love Jacob

Please note: This page was entirely made for my personal American friends and came about because Mog Decarnin couldn't download the personal WTC-photos I e-mailed to some of you. So it is basically about my own "photographic" relationship to the WTC as a dear building. 
An actual tribute to the victims  is shown in the top black box and is borrowed from Jessica White's beautiful Memorial Page.


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