Families of September 11 is now operating as the For Action Initiative. The web pages on this site are available for informational purposes only. Please visit us at www.foractioninitiative.org.

April 28, 2009

Dear FOS11 Member,


Images often evoke the thoughts, feelings and sensations of an experience from the past--live events can be even more provocative. We were disturbed to learn about yesterday’s avoidable incident in which the 747 back-up plane to Air Force One flew so low over Manhattan that, according to a witness, it caused buildings to vibrate and windows to rattle. Many people in lower Manhattan evacuated their offices. “It brought back all the memories of 9/11,” a witnesss was quoted saying to the press.  This event is especially troubling because several federal, city, and state agencies had prior knowledge that this event would take place but failed to alert the community.


Given the power of images to evoke intense responses and reactions, Families of September 11 has alerted its constituency when news programs, documentaries, or movies containing graphic and upsetting images related to the 2001 terror attacks were being released.  In an article posted on our website in 2006 FOS11 Advisory Board Member Stephanie T. Norris, LCSW wrote about the potential for such images to cause elevated levels of anxiety and emotional symptoms in people who witnessed or experienced the events of 9/11. In this article, Ms. Norris wrote, "Even a brief and limited image is sufficient to trigger responses in traumatized children and adults. These responses may be visceral and include physical sensations -- like an increased heart rate, muscles tensing, change in breathing patterns, "butterflies" in the stomach, and other types of physiological responses typically associated with heightened anxiety and fear. Of course, emotional responses related to feelings of heightened anxiety and fear would accompany the physical responses and might include feeling anxious, fearful, feelings of dread, rage, grief, helplessness, sadness, or feeling overwhelmed."

The “photo op” on April 27th staged by the Department of Defense has the potential to provoke such responses. While the mayor of New York stated he was “furious” over the incident, FOS11 is disheartened that so many government agencies missed the importance of this event and is disappointed that all parties involved have not assured us that this breakdown in communication will not happen again.


A low-flying plane in New York is disturbing, but the lack of advance notice to the residents of New York and its surrounding community about this photo op is disrespectful.

If you would like to read the full article by Stephanie Norris, please click here.