Recently, with the 10-year commemoration of 9/11 approaching, an involved friend of mine told me of the need for a “patriotic picture” -- evoking possibly American flags, fire engines, puppy dogs, and white columns over our hometown of Macon. I told him that I already had his shot -- one that I had taken about five years earlier and had published in my second book, “The Architectural Works of W. Elliott Dunwody, Jr., FAIA.”
This was, after all, my favorite image from the book. It conveyed at once the warmth and security of home, and at the same time, the cold emptiness of mortal loss, of an empty bed -- all under the banner of the patriotic quilt.
Though I retained the rights to the image, I knew out of courtesy that I should inform the homeowner of our intended use of the image. And then, pieces of the puzzle began to fit together. The home was owned by a Mrs. Jane Hogan. I called my book partner and was told that yes, Mrs. Hogan had indeed lost her son in the 9/11 attack.
I then called Mrs. Hogan, with my suspicions increasing. Could this be? I told her that I had only then become aware of the tragic loss of her son. I asked her if she remembered the image I took five years earlier -- the one of the bedroom at the top of the stairs. Of course, she remembered. I asked ... and she said that yes, this was Cole’s bed.
The eeriness of this coincidence was tempered only by the knowledge that sometimes, things are simply meant to be a certain way.
We honor the memory of Army Maj. Wallace Cole Hogan and others whose lives were sacrificed on 9/11. We mourn their loss. We pray for solace for their families and communities. We gratefully remember the untiring efforts of first responders to rescue and identify victims at the sites of the attacks. We also remember the compassion extended to the United States by other countries in the days and weeks following Sept. 11. May the spirit of that global compassion give us hope for peace and unity.
Walter Elliott Photographer Macon, Ga.