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25 Most Powerful Photos

On 9/11, the New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority police lost 37. The FDNY's dead numbered 343. Here, firefighter Tony James cries while attending the funeral service for New York Fire Department chaplain Mychal Judge at New York's St. Francis of Assisi Church, September 15, 2001. Photographer Joe Raedle, who attended and photographed funerals for weeks after September 11, told LIFE.com of this shot: "Anytime you see a fireman or a symbol of strength breaking down like that, it resonates." In fact, Raedle's photograph, with its ghostly echoes of James' salute surrounding his tear-streaked face, speaks to how millions of people around the world felt in the days and weeks after the attacks: namely, that strength was what we all needed most, and that it was the one thing that was hardest to find.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images )

For the full photo collection, go to LIFE.com

9/11: The 25 Most Powerful Photos

One decade 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. Here, to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and 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.