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25 Most Powerful Photos

A New York City fireman calls for ten more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble in this evocative photograph by U.S. Navy Photographer's Mate 1st Class Preston Keres. In the months and years since 9/11, the word "heroes" has been tossed around so much that, in some respects, it's been made meaningless. But no sensible human being would argue that the work performed at Ground Zero by countless first responders -- police, EMTs, firefighters, and unheralded, anonymous volunteers who scrambled on to "the pile" seeking survivors -- was anything less than heroic. It's an observation made a thousand times before, and yet it still bears repeating: as hundreds of thousands of panicked New Yorkers and tourists fled to safety and shelter, running away from the devastation, first responders were racing into the unimaginable slaughter and destruction. This photo -- and its call for "ten more" -- remains a distilled reminder of their bravery and sacrifice.

(Photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres)

For the full photo collection, go to LIFE.com

9/11: The 25 Most Powerful Photos

Thirteen years after 9/11, an unsettling number of images from Ground Zero and its environs remain seared in our collective memory -- unsurprising, perhaps, given the scope and scale of the destruction. But the fact that the deadliest, most visually arresting attacks occurred in New York City also meant that many of the world's best photographers were, in effect, already on the scene when the terrorists struck. In hopes of lending coherence to our shared, turbulent recollections, LIFE.com presents the 25 most stirring, visceral photographs from that day, featuring pictures from the likes of James Nachtwey, Joe Raedle, Spencer Platt, Mario Tama, and other celebrated photojournalists (and one intrepid amateur). These are the pictures we remember: wrenching, indelible photographs that tell the tale of a still-resonant late summer day that changed everything.