In a profoundly moving new documentary, "All Our Sons – Fallen Heroes of 9/11," the families of those African American firefighters who perished in the World Trade Towers share their pride and their pain.
Skillfully integrating news footage with sometimes wrenching, exclusive interviews, director Lillian Benson's film paints a vivid portrait of men like Leon Smith Jr., who declared at age nine, "Yes I am, Mommy. I am going to become a firefighter."
And he did. But on 9/11, Leon entered one of the towers just minutes before it collapsed.
"All Our Sons" is a loving tribute to men like Leon; but it is also the willful effort to document the lives of a people whose faces are frequently framed outside the focus of American media, and whose history is too often scribbled in the margins of the American journal.
U.S. Marine Jason Thomas, 32, appeared at the World Trade Center with a flashlight and a shovel and made the decision to help as many people as he could.
He ended up unearthing a pair of police officers who had been buried beneath 20 feet of debris, then disappeared.
No one knew of his identity until he was finally unmasked four years later.
Ironically, Thomas was portrayed in the 2006 film “World Trade” as a White man.
The filmmakers later apologized for their inaccuracy, but Thomas just laughed it off by saying that he didn’t want to “shed any negativity on what they were trying to show.”
All Our Sons features interviews with the families of Gerard Baptiste, Vernon Cherry, Tarel Coleman, William "Buddy" Henry, Dennis Mojica, Shawn Powell,Vernon Richard, and Leon Smith.