This year, the paperback version of God Bless America was sent out. The accordion book was published in 2010.
Dear Geoffrey, we prepared this for our Collections Committee meeting. Hope there is something of use in it. Thanks again!
Jan Ramirez and Alexandra Drakakis
“The 9/11 Memorial Museum began to assemble a permanent collection in early 2006. Today, these resources have grown to include wide-ranging cultural responses reflecting public shock and mourning, shared solidarity and commemoration, and meaning-making around the events of September 11, 2001 as they continue to evolve in both national and global collective memory.
Geoffrey Biddle’s handsomely crafted God Bless America book provides a time-stamped record of the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks. In a series of striking black and white images taken on a stretch of local commercial highway he encountered in Ellsworth, Maine, the photographer has preserved a notable phenomenon seen in the vernacular landscapes of the country in the emotional wake of the 9/11 terrorist strikes, which killed nearly 3,000 irreplaceable individuals. Unfolding in an accordion, Biddle’s twenty images record quotidian outdoors signage and billboards replete with messages of patriotism, support and prayer. Conspicuously, the merchants and property owners who created them did not erase their business supplications: to cancel the spirit of enterprise would negate the resolve to perpetuate American values in defiance of the efforts of Islamist extremists to intimidate the United States and derail its economy and civic freedoms. Instead, lettering and information layouts were re-arranged to insert motivational content, typically opting for familiar phrases such as “God Bless America, “United We Stand” and “Sweet Land of Liberty.” In unassuming poses, the photographer, his wife and the couple’s dog intermittently appear in proximity with this potpourri of road-side sympathy. The irony is not lost on Biddle that these advertisements for lobster dinners, fast food specials and golf driving ranges symbolize many of the same elements of Western capitalist culture that were under attack on 9/11.
Although capturing a particular strip of northern New England thoroughfare, Biddle’s photo essay represents the mood of America-at-large during the time that they were taken, allowing viewers to immediately remember what it felt like to wake up on September 12th, 2001 and venture to pursue our business in the nervous but proud weeks following this catastrophic event. We are pleased to have acquired this unique book - and visualized moment - for the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.”
Jan Seidler Ramirez
Chief Curator, National September 11 Memorial Museum