In a headline last week, USA Today called it "the photo no one will forget," and it's a sure bet for a Pulitzer Prize.

Of course, it's the photograph of three New York City firefighters raising the U.S. flag in front of the crumbled World Trade Center late the afternoon of Sept. 11. Shot by Thomas E. Franklin, a photographer for The Record in Bergen County, N.J., it captured a moment that lifted the spirits of a shocked nation.

When The Valdosta Daily Times decided to do a four-page special section of photographs from Sept. 11 later that week, several of my staffers and I agreed it was the image we wanted to run as a full-page photograph on its front.

We also reproduced the image on a refrigerator magnet that The Valdosta Daily Times is still selling at $2 each with all proceeds going to the local United Way campaign. If you're interested in one, stop by our offices at 201 N. Troup St.

One interesting fact gleaned from the USA Today story: The flag in the photo flew at Ground Zero for several days, and it was delivered in October to the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier in the Middle East. The flag is being flown from its highest mast and will go back to the New York City Fire Department when the crisis is over. The fire department will then install an 18-foot bronze statue based on the photo as a memorial.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words. This photo speaks in a way that words cannot express.

Readers have probably noticed certain pages and features of The Valdosta Daily Times have moved around during the past couple weeks. Some moves are permanent; others were temporary, resulting from mechanical difficulties during a change to a new press.

Color is limited to certain pages on any press, and a surge in color advertisements during the holiday season has brought daily changes in the placement of pages. We apologize for your confusion or frustration.

One benefit of the new press should be better reproduction of photographs throughout the paper.

We hope to keep weather on Page 2A, and we're trying to move the features, or Living, page into a position with color on a more frequent basis. This page usually has terrific stories, design and illustrations by Features Editor Dean Poling, and it looks even better in color.

A couple Saturdays before Christmas, I spent two hours ringing the bell for The Salvation Army at the Wal-Mart Super Center on Perimeter Road.

Fellow Kiwanis member Alvin Payton Jr. and I were blessed to have a warm, sunny day. But even on colder days like those I've experienced elsewhere, this is a pleasant volunteer experience.

It warms your heart to see nearly every person, regardless of age, gender or race, dig into their pockets for a few coins or a fistful of dollars.

If you have an opportunity to ring the bell for The Salvation Army next year, do so. It will make you feel good about your fellow human beings.

On behalf of The Valdosta Daily Times, I also want to again thank everyone who contributed to the Empty Stocking Fund. We surpassed our goal of matching last year's total donations, which was not an easy task given the economy and the drain of donations to charities related to Sept. 11.

Thanks on behalf of the recipients as well.

Ron Wayne is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times.

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