I’ve written about 9/11, the Second Day of Infamy, in these pages six years after and again eight years after, and one would think there would be little enough to add today, nine years after. But after watching one of those TV specials it seems that there is after all.
There were a thousand acts of heroism on that day, some which will never be known because the heroes died in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Others, like the epic of Flight 93 will live on as a modern Thermopylae.
I was struck by a couple of stories on the TV show.
One was about an office worker who had left a lobby filled with people and had entered an elevator to return to his floor. But before he could press a button, the world exploded around him. Then fire and smoke surrounded him and he had seconds to escape before being overcome and consumed. Somehow he clawed and crawled out of the elevator to find the lobby, a moment ago filled with living people, a horror of wreckage and carnage.
By a miracle he had found a woman yet alive, albeit horribly injured. He helped her to the nearest stairwell and began a march down through wreckage, smoke, and fear. They made it down to the ground floor and then outside. A federal marshal scooped the woman away to an ambulance and the man was left to marvel that he had made it out alive.
Another story was about how a group of fire fighters were making their way up the stairs of one of the buildings, trying to get as close as possible to the floor that was ablaze from the wreckage of the airliner. They got the call to evacuate, as the building was in danger of collapse. On their way down they came upon a woman, laying in the stairwell, exhausted. She begged them to leave her, for all strength was gone.
No one, especially a New York City fire fighter, would do that. They started to help her down the many flights of stairs. At about the tenth or so floor she again begged to be left behind, as she was slowing them down. The fire fighters looked for a chair to put her in to carry her the rest of the way.
But then time ran out. The building collapsed.
What followed might be considered the hand of God or luck or something else. The reinforced walls of the stairwell held and the woman and the fire fighters were trapped, but alive. Eventually other first responders dug them out and they too emerged from the wreckage to live on.
One other story, perhaps one of the most soul searing tragedy in a day of thousands of tragedies.
A 911 operator got a call from a woman trapped in the wreckage in a floor above the one that had been struck. The woman begged for someone to come rescue her. The flames and the smoke were coming closer.
The 911 operator could do naught else but to pray the Lord’s Prayer with the doomed woman, which she did until there was silence.
Remember 9/11 until all of the terrorists are dead and in Hell.
Sources: Remembering 9/11 – The Second Day of Infamy Six Years On, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 7th, 2007
Memories of the Second Day of Infamy, September 11, 2001, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 10th, 2009