11 September, 2001.
By now you’ve probably got your own story of what you were doing on that fateful day. You almost certainly remember where you were stood when you first saw the horror unfolding and smoke billowing from a terror-strewn Manhattan.
And such is the iconography surrounding 9/11, we also know precisely where then-President George Bush was when he learnt of the news: reading to a group of children at an elementary school in Florida, where he continued to sit, digesting the fact the largest-ever attack on US soil had just happened on his watch.
This scene of Bush, sat floundered with a tyke on his knee, has since been mocked over and over - most famously in Michael Moore’s damning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, all but turning him into a poster boy for the government’s inability to predict the attack. Not to mention all those nutty conspiracy theories pinning blame on Bush directly.
However, in newly unearthed images taken on that tragic day by the White House’s official photographer Eric Draper, we can see a different side to the commander-in-chief. Intimate, emotionally-charged, he appears to have the weight of the free world on his shoulders.
From the school onto Air Force One, where he watches the rolling news footage, to the moment he’s hunched over the Oval Office desk, deep in thought seconds before addressing the entire nation, the images depict a more absorbed, concerned-looking president than the one seen foundering earlier that morning.
A self-professed cowboy, Bush’s rhetoric in the days and weeks afterward may have been layered in good old wild west eye-for-an-eye vengeance, feeding into the never-ending ‘War on Terror’, but on the basis of these stills, we might simply be seeing a man struggling to process the evil of mankind, one aware of how precious life is and how things would never be quite the same again.