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Posted: 9/11/2002 5:05:41 AM EDT
This is what it was like for me. This is where "I was" on that day. Watch the brothers special tonight to really SEE what it was like on that day. My 9/11 It is the worst thing you could ever imagine coming true....then not believing it. It started with a phone call and a knock. The World Trade Tower is on fire. I am given speculations on what happened, and while I’m listening I look out the window and gasp. Something has happened! The Tower is on fire and is burning hard. I set up my camera, specially placed on a tripod to get the perfect shot before the fire department puts the blaze out and there is nothing to see. As I am looking through my New York voyeur 10x20mm Zeiss binoculars I see it. I see the cause of the first fire and the most unhuman act in history…a plane flying level and low heading uptown at me, then banking hard right, disappearing. Mike and I ask each other where it went. Suzie and I see it exiting out the building, the fireball shooting directly at us, having struck the underbelly of American freedom and security. The second, previously unscathed tower is in flames. Did I just see that? No. No way. The TV confirms my hallucination. It has happened. It really happened. The tower is a flaming inferno. I see this with my own eyes. The numbness sets in. A knock at the door, my buddy Dave asking if anyone wants to pray for the people in the buildings. I ask him if he’s seen it. “No, not yet.” I share the view of the end of the world with him. He’s dumbfounded. Seems that that’s the general reaction around here lately. A phone call from my dad, he’s concerned about me. “ Everything is ok dad, you won’t believe what I just saw.” “Hold on, I’ve got a guest, let me walk into the living room.” “Ok dad, I’m back….yeah, I’m looking out the window now….GOD, its an inferno, both buildings were hit and we saw the second plane fly into the tower..hold on, I see something through my binoculars, it looks like pieces falling off of the building. No, oh no, they’re people, they’re jumping off the building. What’s happening? Oh god, people are jumping and waving at us, they’re waving…Its gotta be the most sickening thing I’ve ever seen in my life…hold on…something is happening….” I stand with my camera poised and at the ready. I watch again. Blackness. Blackness? AGAIN????? “ OH GOD DAD, HOLY SHIT! THE TOP OF THE BUILDING IS FALLING OFF….OH FUCK, ITS GONE, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING????” It is over before it began. Meltdown is the best way to explain it. The building melted. Yeah, keep telling people that and the men with the funny jacket will be coming real soon. Yet, with the way my day just started, it seems that this explanation is ok, the palate finds this pleasing as well. I swallowed. HARD. I waited and watched, everyone is silent. In unison, Jon and I say it…”the other building has to come down soon.” I wait and watch more people jumping to their death. The burning heat, monstrous noises and smoke must be the evil driving them out of the building. I continue to watch. Why miss it? Morbid curiosity or watching the worst chapter in United States history unfold? Either way, I should not miss it. No one should miss this. People will not die in vain. Everyone will remember. I will make sure my story is heard. Anyone can watch the news, living it makes you a part of it. I sit and wait. Camera poised again. It happens with the same speed and shock factor as the first cataclysmic collapse. Every floor that falls speeds up the pace of the implosion. It looks like a reverse mushroom cloud. The top of the building falls inward as the shell falls out and the dust flies up. Is this what a war is like? Are we at war and we don’t know it? WE ARE NOW. I think of that word for a minute, then realize it is my worst fear come true.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:06:17 AM EDT
Erik, my baby brother is in West Point. He’s a first year plebe, but not impervious to a future war. Time moves fast, I’ve learned that very recently due to the conclusion of my first year at law school. He can be an officer, but also a man in danger if this is war. This is not a thought to have now. Deal with it later, he is fine right now. Concentrate on what I have witnessed. Make sense of it. Do not let other thoughts contaminate and overcome me. I will not be defeated by this. Coming to grips with my recent memory is difficult. I will never be the same, but how are the others. I am still numb, but my pain will come later. I check on Jon, Mike, his girlfriend Suzie and Dave, they are white. Whiter than normal. But they are a blur again. I still must reassure myself that this happened. Wait, no…it happened TWICE. I’m cracking up now aren’t I? Wait, no, that’s Mike cracking up. I accidentally planted a seed in their heads…chemical/biological contaminants on the planes. SEAL OFF THE BUILDING. No, not realistic. Mike is panic struck. He tells me he is leaving, going to stay with family upstate. He has no idea what is already on your mind. Jon, he is watching the smoke rise through the binoculars. He has the Nikon binoculars, I saved the good Zeiss binoculars for myself. It doesn’t matter though, I’ve seen enough. Or have I? Reports come back that there are hijacked planes. 4…5…6...7…8…9, then it happens, word comes that another plane struck the Pentagon. What is happening? Who is doing this? Why? There will be no answer today, only carnage. It occurs me to take a closer look. Mike has already taken flight out of the city, based on my own words. My advice. My other roommate Jon is sick, in disbelief, incredulous. I sit dumbfounded; not believing my own eyes, thinking insanity has finally gripped me at the ripe age of 24. Yet life isn’t that easy. It is real, people are dead, dying, trapped… things must be done to survive and to save the trapped. Another plane crashes in Pennsylvania. It was marked as a potential hostage situation. Did it get shot down? Answers will come later, much later. Right now I am thinking. Mike is gone; my voice of reason is now my girlfriend who happens to be on Long Island. There is no need to tell her. No need to worry. What next? Do I have something brewing in my mind? Yes. I must go into the sunlight, my favorite place, Columbus Circle and Central Park. I leave my cell phone behind, door unlocked and all other essentials one usually remembers when leaving. I grab my camera, film, hat, courage and go, trying to capture the humanity of the victims. Everyone is a victim. How can there only be one person who can show the agony when everyone is breathing labored, angry and terrorized breaths? When I got to Columbus circle, I realized that there wasn’t much to see. The Columbus Circle Subway Station was closed, with tons of people milling about at all entrances. Most probably want to go further uptown, but the officers keep them away. Maybe from other threats? Is this how I’m going to live from now on? Is this going to be a victim’s society? I decide that I am going to take pictures, so Times Square is probably the place to go. I start walking down Broadway, which seems like a good road to stroll down. There is something missing though. Where are the cars? Looking up and down the street, I see nothing except ambulances wailing their way downtown. Since there are a lot of people fleeing uptown, I walked down the middle of Broadway…in what is usually
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:07:04 AM EDT
primetime traffic and impassable for pedestrians without a red light working for them. I continued down, since I know the jumbotrons in Times Square will have the news on, which means I could see what unfolds next. My real goal is for me to see the reactions of the many people of New York, rather than the few law students I had witnessed murder next to. Walking at a very fast pace, I realize that I’m not the same as people around me. I’m not as panicky. Does this mean I’ve lost my mind and I’m walking into something blindly? Everyone is walking uptown, they are pushing against me, but not seeing me. Everyone is enveloped in their own world. In each man’s mind, they are the only one on the sidewalk. I stop, talking to men who are happy President Bush is in office, there will be a quick, strong strike like Father Bush would want. No weakness, no mercy. Women are crying. Crying for people they know, don’t know and wish they had the chance to know. Death. It pervades the atmosphere. Anger follows closely behind. Retribution. As I reach Times Square, I hear a silence that is only broken by whispers and sobbing. It is a mass funeral. The only thing missing is a eulogy and everyone in black. The hush is broken by the screams of ambulances flying down Broadway, escorted by New York’s finest. They know not yet of the death of many of their brethren. It will come soon and hard for them. I pray for their friends and colleagues. Brothers. They are more than friends, they are brothers. The thoughts find their way back into my head again. Erik…West Point…WAR. I stand in Times Square for little more than the 10 minutes it took to walk through it. People here are “watching tv” not living the events of the day. They are shocked, but the type of shock seems to be little more than an awakening, rather than a full blown realization of what is happening to us. I continue downtown by Broadway, as I reached the Flatiron Building, I really notice the smoke from downtown. I expect it, but not this much. I cannot breath it in my lungs yet, so there is no appreciation. “Yet” resounds in my head, I’m now on a mission. I realize that setting up the tripod gets some people pissed, but they understand. This catastrophe needs to be recorded in many ways. Mine is mainstream, but appreciated by many. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say. As I finish my few pictures of the Iron Works area, I think about the threat of biological contaminants. If I were thinking rationally, I wouldn’t be here now, would I? I could play it safe, sit in the apartment, do nothing and be an observer. Hell no, onward march. Walking through the Village was never easier, no cars, no worries. Seeing people congregate next to cars, which have radios and the news playing. It still is not clear why I am still walking downtown. It will be soon. And abundantly clear in no time! I suddenly find myself somewhere, in unfamiliar land. It is the same New York City I know, but it is tainted. What is the feeling I have now? It is familiar. I cross streets, avoiding New York’s finest with speed and finesse. Outrunning the police officers that are trying to contain the crowds. I am a master of being invisible and now I know why I was gifted this by God…in order to witness. Alleys which I would never walk down, I am now racing down, hoping not to be stopped. However, they cannot catch up, I am in the clear. The presence of blue is everywhere, officers are doing their best, but confusion allows me to continue onward. Dead end. I’m done. But I have a
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:07:51 AM EDT
great spot for pictures of cars, which have soot and dust on them. Ashes. Black billowing smoke is everywhere in front of me. I now realize that I am here. The Towers are only six blocks down, but I’m at a dead end. The lack of them in the sky confused me, the same way I looked out my window and lacked the skyline I love. I keep shooting more pictures assuring myself that this is real and not a movie. Danger? No, not for me. BOOM! BEHIND YOU! A ladder was pushed away from the building I’m standing next to in order to scale the fence blocking our way. It beckons. Maybe 10 people jump the fence. The darkness is finding a path for me. I obey and follow. It draws blood, taking a patch of skin and blood from my palm. Not the worst to happen to me today, I already know it. This type of pain is something I can deal with, it is tangible, there is pain coming that I will never comprehend. I already know I’m thinking on borrowed time. Tomorrow I’ll probably not be the same as man I woke up today. As I work my way down the street, I run into the police again, so I change direction and work my way east. Its kind of funny, every New Yorker knows that when some whacko walks up to you, you pretend he’s not there to avoid his attention. This is exactly what I’m doing to the police, except for the most part I’m listening, they can still bust me if they want, but I know they can’t, they have to maintain their spot in order to maintain the perimeter. As long as I get out of eyesight, I’m ok. I look down the streets as I am now walking towards the Courts. There is a flaming inferno covered by black smoke. It was a tower. It is nothing now. Something that large, strong and admired is gone. What will happen to me? I am eager to find out. Along with the Towers, my hunger pains are now gone. Since I was woken up to this atrocity, I have not eaten, but I ask myself, “did you really think you could have?” There is something driving me onward. It takes care of my needs. It will help again today, on more than one occasion. Am I running on a tab that I’ll have to settle later? Do I owe anything now? Wandering, I take in the pictures, both mental and physical pictures that will haunt me until the day I die. I don’t know how much time has passed, nor do I care. I don’t need anything. Every shop on the street is closed, except a One-Hour photo. It feels as though that entity is sending me another message. I file it in the back of my brain. I now find myself at city hall and the court houses. Pace University is to the left. However, I cannot get that far. I start blending into the scenery, I’ve always been good at that and it seems as though there is a lot of scenery to blend in to around here. I notice that the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing. There are pilgrims to Brooklyn walking across or are they refugees? A fire hydrant is opened up by a police officer and I take the opportunity to wash out my burning eyes. I don’t know when this opportunity will be available again. My eyes have had a constant bombardment of contaminants of who knows what. Washing my eyes with this dirty water allows me to keep shooting the war, so that this seems like another message and sign for me to continue. The people moving from the Tower area are bloodied, blind and ash soaked, but they resist treatment, they would rather chance their injuries than stand near the tomb anymore. I will later understand why. There is a news crew, channel 11, the WB. I think back to commercials I saw at home, and realize that it’s kind of ironic that they are the only news crew here and they also broadcast from the top of the World Trade Center! They are uninterested in what I have seen, people there have seen and been in worse, atleast for now. I walk to
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:08:40 AM EDT
the court houses to get a better shot, but as I’m walking, I feel a large hand grabbing my neck and squeezing. I’m Busted. It ends here, I know it. No. He only wants me to go back across the street. I learn that my Gilligan-style hat is pulled too close to my ears to have heard his previous orders. I go back to the fire hydrant and shoot some more people soaking rags to wrap over their mouth and nose. I walk up to the Brooklyn Bridge entrance, since I know that people are allowed to cross. I use this opportunity to get in closer and to mooch rolls of film from people who look like pros. It’s ironic that they will not go where I venture today. I will be there, much closer than anyone wants to be. After I procured a couple rolls of black and white film, I saw two firemen escorting a woman by the arm straight up to me. She looks like a mess, defeated, but seemed ok. She wore a fire jacket which was huge for her and a mask hiding half of her anguished face. She walked on will alone, her body seemed spent. I continue walking down the street when I witness a magnificent scene. A man and woman reunited in the street. As I took my pictures I felt as if I was witnessing the greatest moment in their lives. The most intimate act of reunion as they clutched at each other. They stood holding each other far after I stopped taking pictures, probably afraid to lose each other once again. Passing them, I walked down past the police bomb squad who were checking suspicious boxes, literally ten feet from me. I entered the biggest staging area of firemen and police I’ve ever witnessed. Hundreds of firemen, police and EMS workers stand, waiting. Role calls, confusion. I follow a female officer into a door that the police broke down into a local hardware store. She gives me the facemask I will wear the rest of my time here. It sooths, there is an anonymity that comes with it. I also blend in easier now since I look like all of the official personnel. I am now equipped, so instead of coughing and choking, I can breathe easier. Taking shots of the men on duty, taking their anguish, sorrow and defeat on film, I realize I am in a very sensitive place. As I’m taking a picture of a group of three firefighters, the middle man looks at me, but doesn’t seem to see me, only looks though me as if I were a ghost. His buddies don’t even see me, but they have the same looks on their faces as the stare at the ground. The firefighters here are broken down, they’ve lost it. There is something working on my side, I’m positive now. As I’m thinking this, I realize that I am the only one here with a camera; everyone else was forcibly thrown out. I’m also standing in the middle of the square, in plain view of everyone. What comes next is no surprise. Uh oh, I’m spotted. Turn and walk … caught again. I leave, but only after the FDNY push me around, punch me while my back was turned as well as them trying to take my camera. The real threat of “confiscation” (thievery) of my camera and film made me abandon the newbies who seemed to be there for less than noble reasons. As I walk back to the Brooklyn Bridge, I try to figure out how to pass this minor obstacle of 500 police and firemen. Earlier I noticed a way to pass under bridge, it calls to me now. It looked too dark and meaningless then, but now it is the last option as I’ve exhausted all other avenues of advancement. As I continue shooting faces, I see that none are the happy smiling Monday night football faces, which usually grace the streets. They are faces defeated. Speaking of defeat, my camera just stopped working. I realize my batteries are dead and I’m also on my last roll of film. My promise I made myself to turn back to my apartment after expending my film is broken, I realize there’s that camera store! Salvation, or is it?
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:09:24 AM EDT
The camera store owner shows me the pictures the other witnesses have taken. They are participants like myself. Observers will see them later if they are lucky. Taking extra long to talk with the owner and his wife, they tell me that they have seen a windfall in business from the day’s events, but they wonder what the future will hold, or if there will be a future if they are killed. They show me their racks upon racks of pictures taken that morning, while I drink a soda I managed to borrow from the “nice” firemen earlier. Refreshed and renewed, I continue my quest. Not knowing what I’m looking for, I know it will come. I find the way under the bridge, on the other side I start cutting up and down the streets, taking pictures of the world trade complex inferno seen just past “The World of Golf” store. Emergency vehicles pass and kick up furious dust devils, hell bent on taking my eyes. I pass the NYU Medical Center, which is taking blood donations. No chance, I fear needles more than the evil that lies ahead! I briefly feel bad, but only because I I think I could be active in helping in this time of disaster. My help will come in a different way later though. I won’t regret this one bit, it would mean stopping, for good. No way, I must keep moving on. As I pass the hospital, I see the gurneys that sit in the wait. Doctors are walking here and there, all without the urgency seen on ER. It hits me that there are no victims here. There are tons of doctors, yet they appear bored, as if they have no job. Maybe they don’t today. Continuing on, the ashes get even thicker. It seems that the smoke and dust is blowing from the disaster site straight to me. My hat is my new shield; it is that black Gilligan hat that Erik, my brother bought on Canal Street a year ago. Using my mask, I fold the edges of the hat over my ears then use the rubber band to hold it down. Officers are posted on every corner with various firearms, and all look too nervous to even sneeze while holding onto them. I walk past an outdoor café called Zeytuna, which is abandoned, but set up and ready for its normal business. These pictures will show the ghost town that I am drifting through. Nearby are a pair of shoes, which don’t seem out of the ordinary until I look and they are different types of shoes without their matches anywhere in sight. Could someone have kept running with only one shoe on? Anything is possible today; many people are living purely on instinct, which doesn’t allow for materialism or vanity. There are streets which look like they are straight from a small European town during World War II. No, actually these are the views we now have of World War III. It has begun, the world will wait for us to finish in our good time. Enough, I’ve had enough, I’ve seen it all, there was misery everywhere, and I need to see something refreshing and familiar. I worked on Wall Street for a law firm this summer and like that area, so why not drop by? I hear the song I’ve heard so many times on Little House on the Prairie, “Onward Christian Soldiers” playing in the back of my mind. I am NOT defeated. Coming to Wall Street, I see all of the familiar places, however, they lack the crowds of people. The hustle and bustle annoyed me anyway, so the quiet is kind of nice. I realize what is the next target of my journey. The question is, did the bad guys get there first? Images of the Statue of Liberty race through my head, I hope she’s still standing. I walk down further to Battery Park, stopping to inspect the bleeding wound caused by all of the walking I’ve done. Security guards tell me it’s a very bad looking cut, and it looks that way since all of the ash and dust has mixed in giving my blood a blackish-red look.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:10:20 AM EDT
However, I can think of many worse injuries bleeding uncontrollably a couple blocks away. They see my drive to continue and give me a stack of napkins and a wrench to turn on the water spicket across the street. One saying God help you as I started away. Thanking them, I continue towards Battery Park, where I hope to see the Statue of Liberty still standing in the harbor where my great grandparents passed through on their way to a new life and a newer, brighter and safer world. Turning the corner of the fort, I see her, in all her glory. My heart is raised again. This image will stick with me for the rest of my life, unlike the dozens of times I’ve seen it in the past. Again, I am pointed to my opening to continue onward. Following Robert Wagner Jr. Park, South Cove and Esplanade around south, then up north. I walk faster, knowing the destination is near; I can smell it and taste it in every pore of my essence. Walking faster I realize I might not be ready. Finding the weak links in the police barriers keeps my mind off what I am walking towards. Know what I will not find gracing the Manhattan skyline. Looking through the links in the fence allows a glimpse, but not anything worthy of my weapon of choice, the camera. Again I find a weak spot in the police defense, and I know this is the final one, beyond it is the beast, this is the path. Hundreds, maybe thousands of firemen greet me as I find the light at the end of this path. No open arms, no smile, yet not defeated either. I have found what I am looking for, at least in part. Determination. Dedication. Honor. These are all traits lacking in the malignant perpetrators of today’s atrocity. Still not knowing the time, I think I’ve been walking for a couple hours, but know it is more. Major, hard miles have been put on my shoes and they are now cutting my feet apart. Blisters and deep wounds from debris. A great senator once said, “I don’t have time to bleed.” I am inspired, since I don’t have time to tend the wounds. The tread life left on my feet will be finished within an hour, but like others, I’ll move onwards powered by dedication to my pictures and the people here. I resolve to finish after the last roll of film in my pocket, but everyone knows that stupid resolutions are meant to be broken. Making them only allows one to gauge how long you can keep a promise to yourself. In my case, I didn’t keep my promise to myself at all. As I walk through the sludge, which is a combination of river water, asbestos, cement dust and ashes, I realize that it is the ashes disturb me the most. Even though I know what is in that revolting river water, I find the ashes are the worst part of this experience because I don’t know what or whom they came from. I see faces in the puddles, trying not to find the face of a friend or family member. I am keeping it all logical, trying not to lose my sense of reality in a place that seems like a movie set. Surrealism will kill me here. I realize that finding the way here was only half of the task, keeping my grip on the situation and my safety is what really counts. Pictures of the aftermath are now my concern, I try to focus on the heroes. The time is now 3:20pm, a nice policeman told me as he kicked my ass down the street. Ok, next street will be the one………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………­………….OH………………GOD…………………..NO. It is there; I recognize the bridge that joined two sides of the street. That bridge is now lying on the street, there is an inferno burning in a building with scaffolding all over it.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:11:10 AM EDT
He circled behind his truck and out of sight. After about 4 minutes, he came back with an armful of film asking me whether I shoot 100, 200, 400, 800 or slide film. Jackpot. I said all of the above and purchased 30 rolls for an incredibly small amount of money, which morally bothers me to this day. It also seemed interesting that a large number of firefighters had disposable cameras, which they all obtained from “a store close by.” Rejoining the growing ranks of photographers, I felt good again. Meeting Graham set my mind at ease. He also had a cell phone which I used to call my girlfriend, but only to leave a message. Its probably better that I didn’t talk to her, she would have convinced me how stupid I was to be at this place of evil. My message let my family and everyone know that I was ok, but I made the mistake of saying I was at Ground Zero, a name which would shortly be chosen to describe this sacred ground. Another building is burning out of control, it is 4:50pm and I hear on a police scanner close by that they are losing the battle with the fires raging inside, which meant they would be pulling all men out. Then wait for it to fall. Not encouraging news at all. Did I come here to feel good? Did I come here to get a pat on the shoulder and to be told that it’s all under control? NO. I saw a passenger airline hit the World Trade Center one half hour after its smaller twin was struck, nothing is under control. I witnessed both buildings fall, people fall and the rest of the tragedy that followed. I am here to make sure I do not forget. That noone forgets, that what I saw is real, not my mind at work. It doesn’t matter though, mainly because nothing looks familiar. It’s all a deadly playground. I don’t see anything other than the bridge that places me at the world trade complex. It’s all just incomprehensible stuff. It will click one day, maybe not now, but one day that what I am seeing was the greatest set of buildings in this country. Taking my pictures brings me to a triage center where they wash the dirt and grit out of my eyes. It seems that the new moisture in my eyes attracts more dust than when they were dry. I get back to the World Financial Center spot where I had the best view of everything. Or nothing, it all depends on your glass half empty or full perspective. Taking pictures again of the shell and the ruins and the fire raging on the 40 story high rise has reached the boiling point, the moaning has started. Screams. MINE! “GET THE HELL OUT, GET THE HELL OUT NOOOOOW” I scream to the veteran journalists whom I showed my second floor spot, they hesitate, almost waiting for an interview with me to understand why the building is falling and why they should run for their lives. It comes down everywhere, smoke and dust filling the air with its thickness only sliceable with a knife. I remember the words of a fire fighter telling us that when the building came down, it wasn’t the debris that would get us, but the smoke and dust that would unmercifully choke us to death. Especially like a confining place like inside a building. They also said that #7 COULD come down towards us and hit our building. Exiting the building calmly to avoid attention, I saw the wave of smoke billowing at us. Staying in that building would not have been a good idea at all, the smoke accumulated in there. There is only one raging inferno I could see left after #7 came down. It was mostly located on the rooftop of the old building, but was spreading fast and consuming more of this city. The city I love, the skyline the world loves, the place I live, I work and have fun in. There will be no fun today. Only gathering of information so the rage and sickening horror are felt by all as long as I can show them my pictures.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:12:02 AM EDT
After escaping the smoke and falling building I arise unscathed, again. I gather myself and take a finger and toe count. All accounted for. The building across the street, on the other side of the intact bridge is looking tempting, its farther from 7 World Trade, so I don’t have to smell the smoke as pungently. The top photographers: James Nachtwey, Steve McCurry and Graham Morrison are also now standing in safety, which I will try to do now. Walking under the bride and through the doors to the next building, I find myself dripped on by unknown liquids. This building is darker, more eerie. There are dust devils of ash whipping through the interior making it hard to see. It feels as though there are demons in the building that don’t want me there. These are screaming to me to leave, but I’m not done with me chore yet, it’s too early for this beast to get rid of me. Planes have been hijacked and exploded, buildings have fallen and now something screams stay away. I listen, making a hasty retreat from the war torn building. If it stands, my loss will not be great, I’ve seen much worse today. I will live in darkness for a long time, pulling myself out of the depths only when necessary, but only to see if the world has righted itself again. That is to come later. I start thinking about the Oklahoma City bombing as I walk around watching the journalists and firemen go about their jobs. There were children there. How many were here? These evil bastards will die. Retribution will be served. How many survivors were found in Oklahoma? Not many, but the loss of the building was not total. It did not plunge from a 120 floor height, rapidly obliterating itself with every extra inch of drop. This is a different tragedy, but hopefully the outcome will be the same. Justice served. That’s why I am in law school isn’t it? Justice, America, the ability to understand complex events. This event however, is not complex. The plan is simple. To destroy. There is no creativity, no intelligence, just sneaking around like snakes in the grass, hoping not to get discovered before their bite. Any snake can survive until you hunt them. Flush them out of the holes they breed in, drown them with swift justice. Eliminating their threat. They will not survive. This is something I seem to know, yet it still does not help. I am standing in the midst of their bite. It took a city. Yet still I know it didn’t, but swallowing that is hard now, I only see body parts and complete destruction. After talking to a fire chief, he estimated the uniformed loss between 400-500 people, which is unreal. When asked about the civilian casualties, he snaps out of his coma. Thinking. Not throwing out an indiscriminant number, he can’t round these people up or down. He says he hopes people were late to work today. A man next to him spits out a number. 15,000…maybe more. They couldn’t get people out of the building fast enough. The smoke from the collapse is still thick in the air and I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to my spot anytime soon. I take a walk behind the buildings shielding my eyes from the horror, only temporarily though. Others have been through worse today. I don’t know the extent of my damages yet, who knows when I will. I arrive at a triage/eyewash station behind 3 World Financial Center and take the opportunity once again to refresh my eyes with the cool water, this time it is fresh. The men look at my camera and that I am not a fireman, but again, they understand that the heroes must be recognized, and I am there to capture them in history. They are the men of the hour now. Taking the road less traveled, I walk around the buildings up to Vasey Street where I could get the opposite view of the whole scene.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:12:51 AM EDT
I think to myself that it is strange that the scene does not look as chaotic and hectic as from the other side. Yet it is far worse. I see it all from the top of a dirt mound next to 3 World Financial, taking in the view as I have done for the past eleven hours. The longest, hardest eleven hours of my life. Memories I’d like to wipe out will follow me to my grave. When will my grave be dug? Not today hopefully. There is activity everywhere, people scrambling this way and that, not realizing where to run or what to do when they get there. There is nothing to be done. There is too much danger looming overhead. World Trade 5 is critical rumors circulate that 1 Liberty Plaza will follow the same fate. Both will at least stand for enough time to get survivors out. They say they found a man that plunged over 80 floors to survive with two broken legs. Nothing makes sense anymore, but I can use this tale to believe that more survived. It is shows the will of the strong American to overcome the yellow bastards who perpetrated this catastrophe. This survivor will be the man and example to follow. He rises out of the ashes to spit in the face of the evil. He destroys them by living, as we all will. They will not succeed. Their demise is inevitable; I want a hand in it. However, for the time being, my role is the story I now live with, what I have seen, who I now am. I am their worst enemy, hell bent on their destruction in any way possible. I want to see their blood flow in the streets. Pray for the innocent, pray for America, and pray that we bring the war to them, we must kill for our peace and our safety. I feel my day coming to an end, but I am still not in the clear. My feet and legs are blistered, cut and sore from all of the debris I’ve walked through. A steel beam had cut through my shoe as I helped try to locate survivors earlier. There is no guess I want to make on how many bodies are below the debris everyone is walking on. Survivors calling out, no one hearing. The tragedy will never end; there is no amount of justice that can compensate America. No amount of terrorist muslim blood that can offset our loss. They are worthless. Simple, amoebic, one-celled creatures that live to do one thing…destroy. They and their kind will be wiped out. This is a small world and no country will close its borders to us, the angry wounded powerful United States of America. In a like fashion, no smart country will open their borders to the murderers behind this. We will chase them to the farthest depths of hell where they come from, they will not escape. The anger wells within me as I take my last looks at the disaster zone, glimpses of what hell and this war look like, the first Mineo to walk a war zone in 50 years. I walk home in silence, the dust mask, layer of ash on my body and face tell people where I have been. I look like death. Yet there is life here, there is hope. We will rebuild and live long lives. This will be our revenge for now. As I enter my apartment building people look at me strangely, some friends comment on my eyes looking glazed over, while others ask what “that smell” is. I answer all of their questions and find that I have taken a film canister of dust from the site. It is part of my inspiration in writing this story that has taken me the whole night and into the next day for future generations to read. Gregory M. Mineo September 12th, 2001 6am
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:16:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 5:17:54 AM EDT by Balzac72]
[url]http://www.geocities.com/balzac72/Sept_11.html[/url] Its only a Geocities site, so I only get a little bandwidth, but here are some of my pictures and some new ones I added. I don't consider my story to be a masterpiece, but its what I wrote to cope with what I saw at ground zero. I tried to make it as PC as possible, so much of my emotion was lost in the writing, but I didn't want this post to degrade into a "why I hate muslims" thread. Its just about my day. Stay safe today.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:37:08 AM EDT
Greg, I don't know quite what to say. God bless you brother. Thank you for sharing this with us all.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:41:23 AM EDT
Amen!
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:55:16 AM EDT
Thanks for the tack, I hope you all were listening to the names being read on tv, its good to hear them all atleast once. I've read through the list before, but never said their names. Hearing them read was definately difficult to say the least. I wonder which ones I saw dead.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:56:26 AM EDT
God bless you, Balzac; God bless us all.... BTW, the site you reference is full of red x's. Guess the bandwidth is already shot for today. Is there any other way to visit the site, or is it possible to post your photos here?
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 5:58:35 AM EDT
CAN SOMEONE HOST THEM FOR ME? I'll email as many pics as you can host. Email me and I'll start sending them immediately. Balzac72@hotmail.com
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:00:43 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 6:01:16 AM EDT by wiggy762]
Thank you for your excellent piece, it was very hard to read. I had to go away and cry then come back and read some more. Excellent job. BTW, all I can do is hope that the dead woman you photographed died easily and quickly without suffering. That is my prayer for all of the victims.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:06:16 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Balzac72: CAN SOMEONE HOST THEM FOR ME? I'll email as many pics as you can host. Email me and I'll start sending them immediately. Balzac72@hotmail.com
View Quote
I can't, but maybe I can help anyway. If you send me the photos, I'll zip them up and send them to anyone who asks. Might take some strain off you. My e-mail is on its way to you via IM. If I happen to find a way to host them, I'll let you know...
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:14:01 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing that. It still chokes me up to read it, but maybe someday the dam will break and I will be able to finally let it all go.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:31:50 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 6:34:09 AM EDT by libertyof76]
Balzac- If you email me the pictures, I can host them. My mail account only has 10MB of space, so try to keep it under that, at least until I get the messages. I can host 80MB of pictures though, so we will have to do it 10M at a time. my email address is libertyof76@supernet.com. You can also send another 5MB to libertyof76@comcast.net. Also try libertyof76@ar15.com. I think I have 5 or 10M there.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:31:55 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 7:15:04 AM EDT
I've been emailing my pics to Libertyof76, thankyou for everyone elses offers, if somehow Liberty has problems with the server, I'll contact one of the MANY gracious people that offered me their space. Thankyou for your comments as well. I sent this around to friends and family last year and it seems that its been circulating in bits and pieces around the internet and somehow made its way back to me. I'm glad it means something to people enough to forward it on.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 7:17:19 AM EDT
Thanks balzac. I can host and post about 10 photos, mail sent. Thanks again....
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 8:22:34 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 9:07:08 AM EDT
The pics should be available at [url]http://www.muyfa.com/matthewbutch/Pictures/wtc/[/url] There is no index page, so you'll have to select each one and view it then press back to select another one. I'll throw up an index page later tonight when I have time.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 9:55:45 AM EDT
Thank you for your story. God Bless. TXLEWIS
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 10:07:19 AM EDT
All I can say is HOLY SHIT...I knew you told me you took some pictures. I didn't realize the extent you went to. What you did will be part of history forever and maybe bring calm for some. I know that with them our children and their children will never forget this moment in time. Even without watching TV, Radio or looking at a newspaper. Today just has a different feeling to it. Very eerie to me.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 10:56:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 10:58:32 AM EDT by u-baddog]
Wow I am overwhelmed Thanks
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 11:12:21 AM EDT
Originally Posted By edpmedic: All I can say is HOLY SHIT...I knew you told me you took some pictures. I didn't realize the extent you went to. What you did will be part of history forever and maybe bring calm for some. I know that with them our children and their children will never forget this moment in time. Even without watching TV, Radio or looking at a newspaper. Today just has a different feeling to it. Very eerie to me.
View Quote
Thank you Marc, I was just contacted by Goatboy and he wants another section to the WTC tribute page for my pics, I think I'm taking him up on his offer. I totalled over roughly 650 pics so I do have a lot. MANY of them were taken from my apartment, so not all are that interesting, but they follow the story almost to a T. That's what I really want to do is almost do a pictorial essay for this site. It still gives me the shivers thinking I saw #7 fall on you. I'm just glad you survived. Take care today.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 11:22:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 11:44:46 AM EDT by Wave]
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 12:00:28 PM EDT
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