Tattoo helps 9/11 survivor emotional wounds to heal
Healing Ink is a foundation that links tattoo artists with terror victims. Hear the story of 9/11 survivor, Tom Canavan, and how his tattoo to help him remember the day that changed his life.
Tom Canavan will never forget where he was on September 11, 2001.
It is something he will be reminded of each day as one of the approximately 18 survivors buried beneath the ‘Twin Towers’ debris – not only in his memory, but also drawn as a permanent reminder of his body to cover the scars of that fateful September day.
“I wish I never had to go through,” Canavan, who works as a facilities dispatcher at the 9/11 Memorial, told Fox News. “I wish I never had to get a tattoo like this, but this is the reality of things and my legacy is this tattoo. I am the voice of people who can’t tell you what happened.”
Healing Ink receiver, Tom Canavan, will get his “survivor” tattoo, to help heal after going through 9/11.
Last year, he joined a dozen other 9/11 survivors and first responders tattooed by Healing Ink, a non-profit co-founded by Craig Dershowitz and Nichole East of an organisation with the name of Artists4Israel, that pairs the world’s most famous tattoo artists with terror victims, to help bring closure.
“I have always said, from that day on I’ll have to get something to remember this by, but it would have to be the perfect tattoo, for the perfect moment, for the perfect price,” Canavan noted.
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Tattoo artist Luke Wessman, David, who is deployed in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 and is currently part of the NYPD counter-terrorism bureau, “We the People” tattoo.
“Artists 4 Israel’s Healing Ink is intended to cover the scars of the victims of terror, war heroes, and first responders with tattoos – to help them progress in their body and continue to heal, physically and emotionally,” Dershowitz told Fox News.
As a tattoo enthusiast myself, it was not difficult to come up with the idea of using tattoos to heal emotional wounds.
“We did it for the first time in Israel think, it would be the only time,” Dershowitz said. “But it was beyond our wildest dreams. It exceeded every expectation, and so immediately after that, we said, this is something that we need to share with the rest of the world.”
And when Craig decided on Healing Ink NYC, it was something that hit close to home.
Gary was seriously injured in the collapse of the North Tower while working as a Rescue Paramedic for the FDNY.
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“A New Yorker, 9/11 has always been something that I continue to think about and experience. I was here. I actually saw the second plane hit the tower on the train as it went from Brooklyn in New York, if you are on the bridge, and so it is just kind of remained in my mind. And once this has been done in Israel, seeing the success that it was there, and the understanding of the common tragedy that bound Israel with the survivors of 9/11, and the rare strength of the people that experienced both the way through and come out the other end…in New York, the next place we went to.”
Healing Ink the tattooed about 20 people in New York city on two different days at the Apollo Theater and Hotel on Rivington, with views of the Freedom Tower. Each recipient shared their story with the tattoo artist to work together to find what ink to get.
Tom Canavan shows the tattoo artist Zero, that for him the Healing of Ink in New York City.
Canavan showed his tattoo artist, Zero, around the 9/11 Museum and shared his story about the survival of the “hell” of the collapsing towers.
“It is very misleading, because…when you see that cloud, all you see is smoke and dust on the TV, but when you’re inside, you’ll see file cabinets, chairs, computers, people, phones, everything falls, everything is just coming down all over the place – very chaotic – I was lucky enough to get away from that.”
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For Canavan, he wanted the word “survivor” to the top for themselves and the image of the Twin Towers with the sun at the bottom as a tribute to everyone affected that day.
“When I get up in the morning, rather than to look and see in my mind’s eye, seeing the other people that I knew, I see the tattoo in the mirror…it is a reminder to all that there was – the people, the buildings – just everything of that day, what it stood for.”
James McGinnis, one of the tattoo recipients, was on the phone to his brother, who was on the 92nd floor of the North Tower when the first plane hit. During the emotional phone call he told the care of his daughter for him.
James McGinnis and his sister-in-law, Iliana McGinnis, react to his tattoo, an image of his brother Thomas and his daughter Caitlin.
“It was weird, because he said: this is really bad for the country,” McGinnis said.
He got a tattoo of his brother with his daughter on his back, and after they shared a photo of the tattoo, James broke down and kept repeating: “I have him now.”
9-1-1 dispatcher, Jessica Brooks, and Pulse Nightclub survivor, Yvens Carrenard, get tattooed together with the Cure of the Ink.
“I think it’s a gift to the city,” McGinnis said of the Healing Ink project. “Let the people of New York know that we are still here. The people around the world know, we are still here, and we’re not going anywhere. And we are going to heal and we’ll keep healing as long as it takes.”
In Orlando, the Healing Ink the tattooed a 9-1-1 operator, Jessica Brooks, and a Pulse night club, survivor, Yvens Carrenard, with whom she spoke on the phone with 20 minutes until he was rescued by the SWAT team.
“I was the last voice of a woman heard moments before the shooter came into the bathroom and shot everyone in it,” says sara. “I heard her die. Worse, I was the 911 Operator who spoke with the shooter as he picked up her phone. His words haunt me to this day. But, I try and focus on the survivors and the hope for a cure. I spoke with a man is hiding in the top office to the moment SWAT team rescued him. Since then We have met and we are friends to this day, every week.”
Brooks and Carrenard each got a tattoo that symbolized the other person.
Healing Ink goes back to Israel every year, where it all began. The group is making a trip in October.
As the survivors of the Wrist and in Israel, Tom is a member of a community of terror survivors from all over the world and the one he now calls family.
“You’re a part of a community at first, but even though you live on the other side of the world, you realize that you have more in common than your neighbor down the street,” he said. “Our dysfunctional family…we love each other. We say, ” I am glad that I met you, but I wish that I never met.’ With a terrorist attack…some people get it. Some people say just about. You never just get over it…It’s kind of my legacy to help other people.”
It is something both Tom and Craig have dedicated their lives to.
“So much of what Artists 4 Israel does is the healing of the consequences of the war and try to mitigate the effects of hatred,” Craig said. “We want the Healing Ink does not need to be there, because if there is nothing to heal, then there would be no place for us…There is no shortage of suffering, but hopefully one day there will be.”
Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke