Southington CT United States
In God We Trust - was originally made on October 19, 2000. Michael Joseph was in NYC making photographs of familiar buildings and landmarks for an upcoming art gallery exhibition. The breathtaking image of the WTC was not selected for the show; it was only to be rediscovered in his film archive following the events of September 11th.
United We Stand - On October 19, 2001, one month after, and exactly a year later, Michael Joseph returned to NYC with humble intentions; to witness for himself the aftermath, and to make the similar after photograph.
St. Peters Church - The location from which the photographs were made is in front of St. Peters Catholic Church on 16 Barcly Street, at the corner of Church Street. This is one block from Ground Zero, and close to where the Chambers Street subway entrance is located. This is also the same church where NYC FD Chaplain Mychal Judge was carried after being killed while giving Last Rites to a fallen heroic firefighter. The news reported that Mychal was Victim One on that fateful morning. 343 firefighters would perish with him on that fateful day.
The white paper is symbolic of all the millions of pieces of paper that were released into the sky, raining down like ticker tape. The wind carried it for miles, as so we would travel for miles reaching the hearts of people from all over.
The colorful ink pens used to sign the banner was representational of creating a fresh rainbow which occasionally appears after a clearing storm, as pure inspiration and hope.
The scale of the banners was to approximate in scale, the area of ground zero. It was intended that all the individual sections (16 total) would be sewn together as one. This defined unity, and togetherness. It was symbolic of the combined threads of a fabric that take form, and become functional with time, and dedication to rebuilding. This will render something useful and positive, like a warm, safe, and familiar blanket.
The signatures were made one at a time, and in small groups and gatherings. Each one was met with deep felt emotions and careful consideration. Many visits were made to Fire & Police Departments, Rescue Stations, Government and City Buildings, and Public Locations.
The banner was always laid on the ground, welcoming participants to kneel in respect of the memorial piece while writing. The soil and grit from each state’s location remains as reminders of the wonderful cultural diversity of America, NYC, and the WTC
It was further intended that the banner be covered front and back, inch to inch, except for the back side of four panels. The idea behind this was, what would appear is two white stripes, making Twin Towers, or an 11. This space was also symbolic of the hallowed site that can only be filled with a moment of silence, and prayer. For our thoughts will always be with those we lost.
Ultimately the intentions were for the banner to be displayed hanging on center in an open space. The idea for this was that for all who encounter it now, or prior, could proudly hold their heads up, while walking all around it, individually and simultaneously together. The interaction with others while doing so would be inevitable. This again represents the melting pot of our nation, our unbreakable spirit and pride, and the ability to come together for the common goodwill of all fellow human beings.
The banner would cross many borders and boundaries. It would visit many cultures, ways and means of life, and that that represented the hopes and dreams of our future generations. It is for them to learn from our mistakes, improve upon them, and alter the course of history from repeating itself. The banner is best seen as desire to communicate the importance of peace, love, and understanding.
IN THE NEWS
The memorial banner project known across America as “We the People” arrived in NYC at St Peters Church, 16 Barclay St., Wednesday, September 11, 2002. The 21,000 mile, 72 day patriotic journey to all 48 contiguous United States commenced in conjunction with the One Year Memorial Anniversary Service being held at nearby Ground Zero.
Award-winning artist Michael Joseph invited communities to join together with, Firefighters, Police Officers, and Emergency Rescue Personnel, “to write a message of peace and love in memory of September 11th”.
On this day the invitation was personally extended to the thousands of firefighters, family members, and guest who convened from around the world, in respect of the lives tragically lost. According to Joseph “this is a humanitarian and historical effort to unite the country at this sensitive and significant time”. The 40’ x 50’ white vinyl banner is covered with over 30,000 sentiments inscribed with colorful ink pens. Amongst them are many Gov’s, Mayors, City Officials, and FD & PD Chiefs. Some being our nation’s most affluent individuals; former NYC Mayor- Rudy Giuliani, Energy Secretary – Spencer Abrahams, FEMA Pres.-Joseph Allbaugh, FL Gov.-Jeb Bush, and former Oklahoma City Assistant Fire Chief-Jon Hansen.
The signing events began in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on July 4th with the first 4’x16’ section imprinted with a breathtaking B&W photograph by Michael Joseph, of the World Trade Center and St. Peters Catholic Church, made on October 19, 2000 titled “In God We Trust”. Incidentally, this was the church NYC Fire Department Chaplain, Father Mychal Judge was carried to after being killed giving Last rights to a fallen firefighter. It was their vision and goal to “create the biggest love letter from America” In addition to their mission, signatures were also collected on a petition to help elect the photograph as a commemorative United States postage stamp.
Donated to the project were hundreds of Uniform Patches, T-Shirts, Pins, and other items of memorabilia by Fire, Police, & Rescue Departments. Michael Joseph anticipates giving the important artifact and items entirely to either the Smithsonian Institute or Museum in Washington, DC, a NYC Museum or relevant location “for preservation and future generations to behold…may we never forget”. Their grassroots project was funded by the artist, and through helpful independent contributions on the journey.
Michael Joseph was so moved by the events of September 11th that he was obliged take action. He used his creative talents to create the “We the People Banner”. He set aside his day to day routine to embark on this long, interesting journey through the United States. To sense the pulse of a nation in grief, and to hear the astonishing stories from firefighters, police, rescue personnel, and others who were involved in the efforts at Ground Zero, The Pentagon, and Flight 93.
As with many other individuals that were doing something, he wanted to make sure that America was intact, that it was OK, that as a people we are united. Michael Joseph is a resident of Ft Lauderdale, FL and has been active in the South Florida art scene and community for many years.
Michael Joseph is an American fine art photographer who is best known for his award-winning black-and-white photographs of architecture and structures. He was born in the industrial town of Methuen, Massachusetts in 1962. He is a self-taught photographer who works with the traditional medium of 35mm Black & White film photography. He has traveled to all 48 contiguous United States, many international cities, and continues to make interesting photographs otherwise gone unnoticed. His photographs are in several important public, private, and museum collections, and can also be seen in several television shows, commercials, and movies.