McClatchey shares Sept. 11 experience with Ohio kids
April 29, 2011
INDIAN LAKE- — Two Ohio educators have found a unique source of Sept. 11, 2001, history for their sixth-grade class.
She is a source that many conspiracy theorists have made synonymous with controversy. Val McClatchey’s famous “End of Serenity” photograph — which depicts an ominous billow of smoke rising above the fields west of her Indian Lake home — has brought her some unwanted attention during the years.
McClatchey said she’s been called a fraud, accused of altering the image with a computer program. She said some have even suggested that since she moved to the Shanksville area in 1986 she has been a CIA “plant” to cover up the real Sept. 11 occurrences.
But teachers Jim DiPofi and Tim Bowens of Chardon Middle School in Ohio don’t subscribe to any such theory. The two adopted McClatchey as the unofficial tour guide for their sixth-grade students’ trip to the Flight 93 memorial after she visited the children in March.
And they repaid that visit Friday afternoon as part of planning their sixth annual trip to the crash site. The educators said their students — who live approximately 30 miles east of Cleveland — can’t wait to make the journey this summer.
“One of the parents told me it’s kind of like prom,” said Bowens, a social studies teacher. “I was told that starting in first grade kids start talking about it.”
This year’s sixth class was energized by McClatchey’s visit March 29. She was contacted by a fellow member of the North Eastern Ohio Camaro Club in January. The individual had saw an ad in the Chardon, Ohio, local newspaper asking for people with interesting Sept. 11 stories to come forward and speak with middle school students.
McClatchey readily agreed and packed a briefcase full of memorabilia: everything from pictures with late U.S. Rep. John Murtha, to her 2004 amateur photography award from the International Society of Photographers.
“I find it encouraging that kids who were toddlers at the time have taken an interest,” she said.
McClatchey said she enjoyed her conversations with the enthusiastic students.
“It was very surprising,” she added.
Her husband, Jack, wasn’t as shocked.
“We as grownups don’t give kids the right appreciation for their ability to understand,” he said.
Bus loads of Ohio students will visit the memorial June 1 en route to Hersheypark. According to DiPofi, a science teacher, the idea of visiting the Flight 93 crash site came from his travels to Somerset County in 2002 to check out the wind farms.
He said a single visit to the memorial was powerful enough to spur his excitement for the idea.
“You realize it could have just as easily been me on that plane,” DiPofi said.
It took until 2005, however, before the field trip became a reality, as the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, was still fresh in many people’s minds.
“It took some convincing,” DiPofi said. “This was supposed to be a fun trip.”
And as the journey to Shanksville becomes tradition, the 3,000-population Ohio school district is developing its own link to Sept. 11. Since 2009 Chardon students have raised more than $7,500 for the permanent Flight 93 memorial. Bowens and DiPofi said they expect this figure to exceed $10,000 by the end of the school year.
“It’s just little kids making a difference,” DiPofi said.
As for McClatchey, she’s ready to leave the conspiracy allegations in the past. She said that “End of Serenity” has been admitted to the Smithsonian Institute and that, in 2006, the FBI finally returned the original memory card containing the picture.
Most of all, she said, she’s happy to work with the students.
“It’s quite a unique story will all these guys,” McClatchey said. “They’re all very active (in fundraising).”
If I had a dime for every time they make it out like we are calling Val a "fraud." Notice the articles says that it's Val who says she's been called a fraud. Now what we think of her photo is a different story!
The article is also making it out that I'm accusing Val of altering her photo. I've done no such thing. I only brought up the fact that an article had said she had no access to photo-altering software when technically she did (or at least her HP camera supposedly came with some). Doesn't mean I'm saying she altered anything. Just getting the facts straight.
I'm not aware that she's been accused of being a CIA-plant as far as I can recall. I don't think she is. If some truther accused her of that, well, there are some really paranoid truthers out there. LOL
I still don't know why the FBI had to confiscate her camera's memory card if her photo of the mushroom cloud was real. I can see why the FBI would want to confiscate it if her original photo did not contained a mushroom cloud as one local claims it didn't. I've said before that if her photo is fake, I believe the FBI, or other government agency did it, not Val, or anyone in her family.