See larger Memories in a frame — Images of tragedies are complicated. Often blurry, tilted and generally filled with raw emotion, they're unwittingly captured by the camera's 250th-of-a-second shutter. Often they serve as sentinels that watch over us from their framed perches, serving as reminders of people and places that have meaning. Bill Whelan has his images framed in gold. Faces of proud men, mostly smiling. It's difficult to imagine these smiling faces as tragedies. All of them are gone, all of them part of the dust that will never settle in the hearts of those who knew them. This is the way tragedy has been framed for Bill Whelan: Pictures of his collegues, or the painting given to him by Bernedette Welsh, an Irish woman whose nightmares from 9/11 came to life on a canvas. And there are other people and places in Whelan's Naples home, framed to keep his heart humbled. He will never forget them. September 11 began as any other day for Whelan, then a New York City firefighter. He had time to sip morning tea for once, having a rare day off. He was able to take his time with breakfast. And then the phone rang. On the other end of the line was his wife, Carol. Her voice left no doubt there was trouble. She says she saw a plane fly into the World Trade Center. He hung up and willed his way to the scene of what is now a haunting reminder that America can never be the same. One of Whelan's memories comes from a photo of himself, shown striding courageously through that moment in time, frozen and framed by the tragic circumstances. Showing it to a visitor, he looks away yet seems peaceful. His maturity helps him understand the perils of daily life. As a firefighter, he has seen a lot. A year after the events of 9/11, Whelan retired from the job he now knows was not a job at all, but a brotherhood of family. He knows he'll always respect those who were lost, and also those left behind. Today, as he stands before a crowd that will gather at the First Baptist Church at 5:30 p.m., Whelan's Celtic cross will shine from its spot just over his heart, pinned on the Class A uniform he's worn many times. He will recite poetry and talk about the importance of remembering. Then, along with others, he'll pause and pose for a photo. Just to remember. Published Sept. 11, 2006

Photo by JUDY LUTZ, Daily News

Memories in a frame — Images of tragedies are complicated. Often blurry, tilted and generally filled with raw emotion, they're unwittingly captured by the camera's 250th-of-a-second shutter. Often they serve as sentinels that watch over us from their framed perches, serving as reminders of people and places that have meaning. Bill Whelan has his images framed in gold. Faces of proud men, mostly smiling. It's difficult to imagine these smiling faces as tragedies. All of them are gone, all of them part of the dust that will never settle in the hearts of those who knew them. This is the way tragedy has been framed for Bill Whelan: Pictures of his collegues, or the painting given to him by Bernedette Welsh, an Irish woman whose nightmares from 9/11 came to life on a canvas. And there are other people and places in Whelan's Naples home, framed to keep his heart humbled. He will never forget them. September 11 began as any other day for Whelan, then a New York City firefighter. He had time to sip morning tea for once, having a rare day off. He was able to take his time with breakfast. And then the phone rang. On the other end of the line was his wife, Carol. Her voice left no doubt there was trouble. She says she saw a plane fly into the World Trade Center. He hung up and willed his way to the scene of what is now a haunting reminder that America can never be the same. One of Whelan's memories comes from a photo of himself, shown striding courageously through that moment in time, frozen and framed by the tragic circumstances. Showing it to a visitor, he looks away yet seems peaceful. His maturity helps him understand the perils of daily life. As a firefighter, he has seen a lot. A year after the events of 9/11, Whelan retired from the job he now knows was not a job at all, but a brotherhood of family. He knows he'll always respect those who were lost, and also those left behind. Today, as he stands before a crowd that will gather at the First Baptist Church at 5:30 p.m., Whelan's Celtic cross will shine from its spot just over his heart, pinned on the Class A uniform he's worn many times. He will recite poetry and talk about the importance of remembering. Then, along with others, he'll pause and pose for a photo. Just to remember. Published Sept. 11, 2006

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