I’m driving down the road talking on the phone and look up to see smoke from the North Tower. I ask the guy on the other end if he’s heard anything about a fire at the World Trade Center. He hadn’t. After our conversation I tune to 1010WINS to hear that a sightseeing plane hit the WTC. I call one of my employees who informs me that an engineer in the building, where he is, saw the plane coming down the river and that it was a commercial jet. I get to thinking of the assassination of Massoud the Lion of Panjshir and the dynamiting of the Buddhas. I grab my camera and take a few shots, turn the radio back on, and out of the corner of my eye, see the south tower hit.
I end up stopped, with the rest of the inbound traffic, at the causeway leading to the Queens Midtown Tunnel. We’re watching in silence for the most part.
I notice a brown-skinned Pakistani or Indian looking Dial Car Driver and wonder “Am I the only one thinking this?” I walk over to him and say that I know he had nothing to do with this; but I can’t vouch for the feelings of the rest of the crowd. He bursts into tears, insists he had nothing to do with this and asks what he should do. I suggest he goes home, locks his doors, turns off the lights and keeps his head down for a few days.
I head back home and on the way, withdraw cash from the bank, fill up my tank, buy 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition and a dark gray suit. I tell the poor kid at the gas station, that day, that the Bill of Rights is going to take a beating
Being wired into the NYC Construction industry I know there were no volunteers working on the recovery by 9.13; the unions clamped it all down tight starting that evening. I know terrible stories that poison the overall valor of most “First Responders”. I think it was criminal to send firemen into the towers with hoses that were just set dressing. A friend announced she was going downtown to cook for the volunteers. I still feel badly about asking, “What volunteers? The only volunteers are those handing out free meals and clothing to people on the clock”. I know firsthand that a lot of Laborers, Cops and Firemen took home boots, pants and jackets sized too small for them and that a lot of the children of these Heroes were color coordinated that Christmas in browns by Timberland and Carhart.
I hated Rudy Giuliani as a dangerous man on 9.10 and still hated him on 9.12. I argued with a friend, a volunteer fireman on Long Island, and refused to help him get a Union Card so he could put in some time on the pile. I told him to get real; that it was a toxic nightmare, that no more rescues were going to occur and all he would do is put himself and his family in harm’s way. I don’t know why work on the pile could not have waited for adequate safety equipment and planning.
I lost a few people I liked that day and nobody I loved. Consequently, I have to admit to a certain amount of ambivalence on the subject. I do feel it was very correct to beat the Taliban down it is necessary to kill Bin Laden. I’m thinking that we can lose 3,000 people every ten years and continue to be a democracy. I’m unsure that we can retain our values with the Patriot Act on the books. I believe I was correct about the Bill of Rights. I’m still furious that we invaded Iraq and glad we bogged down there because North Korea was next on the agenda.
I cruelly think that one of the abiding lessons of that day is that only one in four Americans will fight back. I feel worse when I suspect that the people who stood up on Flight 93 may have been less than 20% of the passengers.
I understand the deep and abiding void the loss of loved ones must leave in some lives and wonder at? about? survivor’s grief for some more. I appreciate some of the expressions of remembrance and can’t speak from personal experience of what hole is left to be filled.
I suspect a whole generation of people of exaggerating their actual ties to the events and lost souls of that day. My terrible skepticism reminds me of one of the first big boy lessons I was given. A barber, with Pacific WWII pictures at his station explained “If a fraction of the people who claimed to have sailed with JFK were really on that boat, PT109 would have sunk at the dock.” I opine that some deaths are simply prosaic and that doing the job for which you are paid isn’t necessarily heroic.
My company was demolishing a damaged fire tower on a hotel at JFK Airport on 9.11.02. Someone should have told us there was a memorial service going on inside for Port Authority employees. I know a few people were traumatized by the sheets of steel crashing to the ground before we were told about the service. One year later and people were still trying to figure it out.
9/11/12- With the imminent Presidential election I am reminded of one of the ugly thoughts I had on that terrible day “This wouldn’t have happened if McCain were in the White House“. There is a big difference between attacking a US headed by a draft-dodging coke head & one where the POTUS is a decorated combat veteran. I blame Karl Rove for 9/11.
World Trade Center
- Lessons Learned From A 9/11 Survivor
- September 11, 2001: It Wasn’t About What Happened, But What Could Be Narrated (bagnewsnotes.com)
- Status of World Trade Center site, 11 years later (riehlworldview.com)