9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo – epa: The Moment

Two Years ago a photo hit the front pages around the world. It was the picture of the grieving dad Robert Peraza, who lost his son Robert David Peraza on 11 September 2001. The picture was taken at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during tenth anniversary ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, 11 September 2011. We asked epa photographer Justin Lane to think back and describe the moment when he shot this picture.

9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo – The Story of Justin Lane

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 was obviously going to be emotional for the families. I think for many it was the first time they were experiencing the magnitude of the 9/11 Memorial and seeing the names of their loved ones etched into the metal that rings each of the giant pools in the spaces where the towers stood. The president was attending. Past presidents were attending. It felt like a major milestone for the city and the country.

9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo

9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo

I was lucky enough to be a part of the group of pool photographers covering the ceremonies. Personally, it was important for me to be there. I had covered the 9/11 attacks in New York and being there 10 years later was really important to me. I was positioned next to the North Pool. We arrived early and it was pretty quiet as most of the families of victims and dignitaries had not arrived yet. It was during this time that I saw Robert Peraza walk up to the spot were his son’s name is engraved, take a knee, and say a prayer. He was alone. He stayed there for less than minute and then stood up to walk away.

9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo Frontpages

9/11 Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo Frontpages

I knew it was a strong image. It was quiet and peaceful and simple but clearly it was a father in pain remembering his son. I certainly had no idea that that picture was going to be used by the media so widely. There were so many talented photographers there that day and so many other powerful images. It meant a lot to me to be able to make an image that made people stop and remember the horror of that day and the pain that so many have endured in subsequent years.

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