Iconic Ground Zero photo almost axed for being too patriotic

Charles Rollet Contributor
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A picture of three firefighters raising the star-spangled banner in the smoldering  ruins of Ground Zero was almost nixed from the 9/11 memorial museum for being too “rah-rah” American, the New York Post reports.

The iconic image, which has frequently been compared to Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,” was considered kitschy and overly direct according to Elizabeth Greenspan’s new book, “Battle for Ground Zero.”

“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,” said Michael Shulan, the museum’s creative director.

Eventually a compromise was made, and the photo was “minimized” in favor of three pictures showing the raising of the flag from different angles.

Shulan later told the Post that he considered the photo too simplistic to convey the full meaning of 9/11.

“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,” he said.

The photo was the most famous to come out of Ground Zero, even though its photographer, Thomas E. Franklin, didn’t realize it would become so renowned when he took it. The flag in the picture was lost and a search has been going on for it ever since.

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