How I saw the Fruit of the Spirit in Washington D.C.

We were crazy enough to drive from Nashville to D.C. in just one day. We were even crazier to squeeze as much as we did in to just a day and a half in D.C.

I went over Thanksgiving break with my good friends Stephanie and Becca, who are both journalism majors at Lipscomb. The main attraction of our visit was Newseum -- an interactive museum of news and journalism.  When we first got on the road to begin our trip, I had no idea how much of an impact the stories I discovered in D.C. would impact me.

First stop in Newseum: the FBI exhibit. Snippets from big news story showcased facts the FBI collected and how they used those hints to help solve problems. Part of the FBI exhibit featured artifacts left behind from 9/11.

The "Phones Kept Ringing" display first caught my eye. At first, it gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes thinking about all the loved ones who were lost that day. I just couldn't stop thinking about how some kept calling their children, spouses or other family, and there was no answer. I can't imagine being in the shoes of the firemen, police officers and the rescue and recovery team who had to listen to the shrill ring of all the phones. 

I kept thinking about how patient these people must've been to keep contacting loved ones, without ever receiving an answer. And how the teams rushed in to clean up such a sad mess -- I wonder what was going through their minds when the phones kept ringing. I know they had to approach the situation carefully and gently. 

The Newseum also had a separate 911 exhibit on another floor -- this was so tear-jerking. Moving. Powerful. I watched a short film about the photographer who lost his life as the second tower fell -- Bill Baggart

Bill was a news photographer who chose to cover stories that most interested him, not the ones an editor selected. He always focused on those who were voiceless -- the Palestinians in the Middle East, the Catholic/IRA controversy in Ireland and the issues of natives, blacks and gays in America.

But among his journeys as a photojournalist, he covered the 9/11 attacks. During that sunny morning in New York, Bill was nearby taking his dog for a walk. He heard the news from a passing taxi driver that the first tower had been hit. He ran home, grabbed his cameras and headed toward the towers. He was shooting and walking as he moved closer to the flames and smoke. 

Bill's pictures show that he was shooting straight up at the burning buildings, not far from the first tower when it fell. His wife Wendy called him just after the first tower fell. As she stuttered with her words saying she was worried about him being there, he reassured her he would be back to his studio within in 20 minutes. 

But that was the last time they ever spoke. About 20 minutes after the phone conversation, the second tower collapsed. Bill's body was found in the aftermath four days later. 

His cameras and film were also found and recovered. They are pictured above, and all of the photos he captured on that horrific day can be found on his website

I share Bill's story because I think it holds so much power. A man so brave and strong to walk into such a disaster, to simply capture it for the rest of the world to remember and honor. He lost his life in 9/11 doing his job, like many other people did, but his photographs and the passion he put into making them will live on in history. 

He was one of many other journalists who lost their lives doing their jobs. They were honored on the wall above. Knowing that so many passionate people lost their lives fighting for and covering something they believed in so deeply moved me so.

At the end of our adventure at the Newseum, we viewed the Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery exhibit. I love looking at other photographers' work. It is always inspiring and breath-taking, regardless of the subject. I cried, I laughed and I had my heart ripped out several times. And much like I was after hearing Bill's story, I left with more fire to my passion. 

PatienceErin TurnerComment