Photojournalist recounts stories heard on road trip to NC in days after 9/11

Remembering 9/11

(WGHP) — If you want to know how America felt in those fragile days after 9/11, you can feel the raw emotion in a documentary by an independent photojournalist.

Brian Kast was living in Colorado and was scheduled to fly to North Carolina for work. Then, everything changed.

Brian said it shut down all the airports even as he had a good amount of work as a freelancer lined up back in North Carolina on the east coast. So, driving was his only option. Going straight through, he could make it in about 22 hours. But he had a few extra days and that gave him a chance to record this moment in history.

“It was almost like I needed to work some things out, and I had the camera, so I said, ‘We’ll do a test run at this truck stop on the Kansas/Colorado border and just see what happens,'” Kast said. “I got the camera out and people wanted to talk about it”.

Everyone talked. They focused on sorrow, outrage and wounded pride. But they also talked about the strength that comes as a wound starts to heal.

One woman told him they waved flags along an overpass for an hour and a half the previous night. They decided to do it again the next day and may continue doing it. People didn’t hold back.

Another man shooting skeet in Kansas told Brian, “Two days is all it would have taken” as they spoke about the terrorists who took control of the planes. He added that “They could have moved in here and had us. People don’t realize how easy it can come and go.”

The interviews were filled with raw emotion. Kast said he literally stumbled on all of the interviews; there was no producer setting things up as he traveled. He just found people and recorded them.

The interviews also focused on regular Americans, like a firefighter in Missouri, a homeless man in Cincinatti and a fisherman in East St. Louis. They all said what we felt.

One man told him, “We won’t come together and unite as a society, but we will work together to solve this problem.”

Brian Kast didn’t want to talk with any officials. He focused on ordinary folks, adding that there were some differing opinions and observations, and he appreciated every one of them.

After three long days on the road, he finally rolled into North Carolina and stopped in Mount Airy outside a knitting mill. The workers were on break and he heard them asking the same questions as people in Kansas, Ohio and West Virginia.

One man told Kast he couldn’t imagine what the terrorists wanted to accomplish through the attacks.

“Why? What was their point?” the man told him as co-workers sat silent nearby, everyone reflecting on the attacks that were still fresh in their minds.

20 years later, Kast said he’s glad that he took the time to talk to make the documentary, adding that he’s grateful for “the opportunity as a journalist and a human being with a camera to have the wherewithal to take that opportunity on those three days to capture something.”

In those three days, Brian Kast captured all of us and all of our emotions and we gained a new focus and started to rebuild from one of the most painful moments in American history.

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