Photos showing a rainbow appearing to originate from the World Trade Center on the eve of Sept. 11 are quickly being shared online as they elicit emotional responses from admirers.
Ben Sturner, CEO of sports marketing company Leverage Agency, said he stepped outside onto the terrace of his apartment in Long Island City, Queens, Thursday morning, part of his daily routine to check the weather.
It was just after 7 a.m., and from across the East River, "I see this rainbow, and it's coming from the World Trade Center and it's the most gorgeous rainbow I've ever seen," he told NBC 4 New York over the phone. "I took out my phone and started snapping photos."
He posted them to his social media accounts, convinced others were posting images of the same beautiful scene. But he didn't find any others showing the same angle.
Once people started noticing his photos online, the responses started pouring in, with many remarking on the timing — a day before the nation would pay tribute to victims of the terror attacks from 14 years ago.
One woman tweeted him, "Best birthday present in 14 years. This picture of hope and renewal that I feel coursing through me and out my fingertips. Thank you."
One woman commented on the photo as shared on NBC 4 New York's Facebook page: "The message: let this rainbow be a sign of peace, strength and forgiveness. They are all angels, resting in peace. 9/11/01."
Another commenter said: "I'm on the bus and nearly cried when I saw this. Full body goosebumps."
And thousands of others have chimed in, describing the photo as "beautiful," "mysterious" and "incredible."
Sturner, who moved to New York City from North Carolina 12 years ago and wasn't in the city on Sept. 11, said he's touched that so many people have found their own special meaning in what he calls "a magical rainbow."
"You never know when you see something that could be moving," he said.
"It gives me chills," he said of the reaction.