Official FDNY Ground Zero Photographer / Chicago Native Gary Marlon Suson Donates Rare Image Collection to Barrington High School for Students’ Education
Chicago native Gary Marlon Suson, an FDNY Hon. Battalion Chief who served 7 months as the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the FDNY — whose image collection was dubbed “Rare Photos” by the New York Times and founded the 5-star rated 9/11 Museum Workshop in New York City — is donating a large cache of his image collection for a new Museum to open at the Top 500 nationally-ranked Barrington High School in Illinois on September 10, 2021, for the 20 year anniversary of the attacks at The World Trade Center.
The 9/11 Museum at Barrington will feature 100 Images and Artifacts along with BOSE audio stories narrating the history behind each display. It is a recreation of the 5-star rated 9/11 Museum Workshop in New York, a two-time winner of Trip Advisor’s prestigious “Top 25 Museums in the USA” Award. Suson was raised in Barrington Hills and attended Barrington High School. He began conversations with the Barrington School District about creating a Museum after they presented him with the 2019 Distinguished Graduate Award for Humanitarianism for his photographic work at the World Trade Center as the only photographer in the world granted full 24/7 access to every area at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. His image collection has raised charitable monies for FDNY and 9/11-related charities, garnishing him support from numerous victims’ families and FDNY firefighters.
The new Museum and 1.5-hour BOSE audio tour will initially be open only to students in the Barrington school district. Suson — who suffered lung damage from his extensive time served at WTC — called upon 9/11 families and firefighters he is close with to assist him with creating the exhibit by way of loaning rare artifacts culled from Ground Zero.
This exhibit is high-enough caliber to be in any major city but I chose Barrington, Illinois because it’s where I spent my childhood and have so many special memories. I want to give back to the Chicago area which I so dearly love and I want the next generation of kids to learn first-hand about this historical event that inspired true bravery, says Suson. Just as there are Anne Frank education centers around the world — I don’t see why there cannot also be education centers for September 11 around the USA.
The 9/11 Museum at Barrington will mark the first time ever that The Islamic Steel Crescent & Moon — a very rare artifact — will be on public display. It is a 120-lb religious artifact cut from WTC steel in 2001 in honor of the roughly 34 Muslim office workers who perished in the collapse. It was believed that only Stars of David and crosses were burned from the steel for Jewish and Christian victims’ families — but never anything for the fallen Muslims who worked in the towers. Suson spent considerable time tracking down the obscure artifact — convincing its caretaker to allow its loan — and believes the Islamic artifact completes a visual stand of the 3 religions united against terrorism.
“It will be nice to see for the first time the three symbols finally displayed together, as they should be.” No other museum has such an artifact. Suson first loaned it to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in 2017; however, the pandemic thwarted its display. He recently retrieved the artifact as he thought it would have meaning to students who are of the Islamic faith who will visit the new Museum. Suson’s collection focuses primarily on the 9-month dig for the missing — the “Recovery Period” — when cameras were banned at the World Trade Center.
The opening is September 10th at 5:00 pm by reservation. Gary Marlon Suson will be in the Chicago area for the September 11 anniversary.