Back to the topics of writing and publishing tomorrow, but today I was to share a handful of interesting things about 9/11 I didn’t put in yesterday’s post (and you can feel free to add your own images in the “comments” section at the end)…
1. Did you know that between the two World Trade Center Buildings, on the west side by the Hudson River, was a Marriott Hotel? When the towers collapsed they fell on it, and the hotel was also destroyed. Nobody really seems to know how many people died in the Marriott, but a group of people (ten firemen and a lawyer who was staying at the hotel) survived when one corner of the building remained standing. I had stayed at that Marriott just months before the attack, and it was lovely.
2. Jules and Gedeon Naudet, the two French filmmakers who happened to be filming in Manhattan that day and created the riveting documentary 9/11, were the only people who caught the first plane hitting the north tower. If you view it, note what the police officer who happened to be standing in the shot says: “That’s an act of terrorism! He steered that plane right into the building!” To New York’s finest, they knew immediately what had happened.
3. Three weeks after the attack, I finally took my trip to New York. The scope of Ground Zero was amazing. Television couldn’t capture it. A huge pile, and a huge field of debris — the size of it took my breath away. 16 acres of rubble. Imagine.
4. I got to walk completely around the perimeter of Ground Zero with a friend. I noticed there were dump trucks getting filled with debris from loaders, then heading out to Fresh Kills so investigators could sort through the rubble. We waited at the exit where the trucks were leaving, thinking there would be a break. It never came. One of the policemen on site said to us, “You gotta dash between the trucks. They run 24/7.” It took months for them to clear the site, with loaded dump trucks running 24/7 — that’s how devastating it was.
5. 125 people died at the Pentagon, along with 58 passengers, 4 flight attendants, and 2 pilots. Why is it we rarely hear about the Pentagon strike?
6. If you want to read a great story of good triumphing over evil, pick up a copy of Thunder Dog. Mike Hingson is blind. He was on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center the morning the plane hit. His guide dog, Roselle, walked him down all those flights of stairs, and both Mike and Roselle survived. His story of meeting fire-fighters as they came up the stairs, and having one stop to pour water from her water-bottle into her fire helmet so Roselle could take a drink… incredibly moving.
7. Here’s my lasting image of September 11… There used to be a Burger King on the corner, across from the towers. I’d eaten there several times. When I took my walk around the site, I could only recognize the building by the round “Burger King” sign that was on the front wall — the paint had all been blasted off by the force of the debris. It took me a while to figure out what I was looking at, but as I got my bearings, and realized where I was, I watched a worker inside go about his business. He climbed up a ladder, shook a can of spray paint, and circled a spot high on the wall. It was just a smudge, but he painted a circle around it, then sprayed an arrow pointing to the spot. He then shook his spray can again, and proceeded to write the word “HUMAN” beside it.
That used to be somebody. Now it was just a splotch, ten feet off the ground. The guy got down, moved his ladder, and started circling something else. That’s the image I will always carry with me of 9/11.