When the terrorists crashed two commercial airliners into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Mike Luckovich, the editorial cartoonist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was at home with his family watching the coverage before going to work.
Luckovich produced a cartoon for the next day’s paper that drew a strong popular response from readers. It depicted a weeping Statue of Liberty, with the reflection of the Twin Towers in her eyes.
Luckovich recalled in a 2016 interview that he did not think at first that it was a good cartoon.
“I drove to work and I wanted to do the very best cartoon that I could,” he said.
He worked all day trying to find an image for the cartoon and settled on the Statue of Liberty drawing as his deadline neared. But he worried about it and remembered feeling embarrassed.
To his surprise, the response the next day was strong and positive.
“Afterwards people really liked it, we were getting a lot of response to it, so the paper printed up posters and sold them at Krogers all across metro Atlanta to raise money for 9/11 families and victims,” Luckovich said.
Proceeds from the posters went to the September 11 Fund of the United Way.
“In hindsight I realized the reason I didn’t like the cartoon at first was because I had so many conflicting emotions, just like everyone else. And I wanted to get all of those emotions into one cartoon,” he said. “But that’s hard with a single image. In hindsight I think I probably did the best cartoon that I could at the time.”
Cartoonist Mike Luckovich’s most-requested cartoons include the moving images he created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York, Washington and elsewhere. We have collected those images here, including the weeping Statue of Liberty cartoon, as the nation pauses to remember the solemn 9/11 anniversary.
Brian O'Shea is a senior digital producer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He works with the newsroom to identify topics of interest to Atlanta readers and also works with voter guides and election results. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and The Ohio State University Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.