9 years on

Last week was the 9th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire. On the evening of February 20, 2003 during a performance by the band Great White pyrotechnics ignited a fire that quickly destroyed the entire nightclub, claiming the lives of 100 people and injuring many more. I had never been there and I didn't know anyone who died that night but still  I felt compelled to go there First of March I went to West Warwick and found the site. What was left of the nightclub, which was just a small wood framed structure, had been fenced off and the fence had become a makeshift memorial shrine. Flowers, notes, stuffed animals and photographs covered almost every surface. A neat row of crosses had been arraigned on one end. An early morning snow had turned to a cold rain, the light was grey. A few people walked about or stood in silence, stopping to read a note, sometimes adding something of their own. I've never felt such overwhelming sadness at a place. I walked the fence reading names, looking at faces in pictures. Ordinary faces in everyday snapshots, simple pictures now imbued with pathos.

I was reaching my limit, aware that what ever I was feeling was nothing compared to what others there that morning were confronting. I had my camera and gave my self a little distance with the photographic exercise. I shot one roll, just 8 exposures, recording simply the visual facts before me. I then returned to my car and broke down in tears, crying most of the way back to home. I was sad but I could leave and return to my wife, my life would continue on as it has. Not everybody was so lucky. 2 days later I developed the film, sleeved the negatives and made a contact sheet. All of which I filed away until now.
The Station site is still a makeshift memorial, plans to create a more permanent remembrance have stalled. Survivors gathered this anniversary as they have every year, nine years on.

Station nightclub wiki