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Remembering the World Trade Center, Sixth Installment

Back on September 12, 2001, in the hours after the greatest tragedy to ever befall my hometown, I wrote:

The only near-fatality of an extended family member of which I am aware is my sister-in-law's cousin. He was on the 89th floor of the first tower that was struck; that strike apparently occurred on the 96th floor, but the devastation quickly spread to the floors above and below. He was able to get all of his workers to safety, except for two who were killed. He is now in [the] hospital, recovering from smoke and ash inhalation, but we expect a full recovery.

In the confusion that marked those hours, not all the facts that I reported were completely accurate. And that brief paragraph most certainly did not tell the whole story.

It has been five years since I wrote those words. Today, I am honored to add the testimony of my sister-in-law's cousin to my annual tribute page, "Remembering the World Trade Center":

"Cousin Scott"

As I mentioned here

This year's installment is particularly important; it comes on the fifth anniversary of that awful tragedy and it marks the first time that I will take readers inside the WTC. My interview subject was on the 89th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. That he survived to tell this harrowing story is a blessing to those of us who will never forget September 11, 2001. This was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted, but I trust that readers will agree with me that it is among the most important contributions to my annual series.

For those who would like to read previous installments of my series, I provide this index:

2001: As It Happened

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

Comments

Outstanding remembrance and interview, Chris. I hope you send it to the newspapers (not necessarily NYC). As evidenced by your cousin Scott, the human will to live is often strong and quite admirable.

Still, I hope everyone remembers who ~did~ this horror: Muslims. It wasn't "terrorists." The Islamic community merits a great deal of moral revulsion and hatred by anyone who pretends to virtue.

Historically, I think the Jews should be remembered and hated for creating monotheism/religion. They were the original "zealots" who fought the intensely civilized Romans, and eventually begat the Jesus and Mohammed monsters.

I think the Christians should be remembered and hated for largely destroying Hellenistic Rome and creating a thousand years of Darkness.

And on 9/11 let's all bear in mind the Muslims and the unique and stunning evil ~they~ represent and embody.

No more 'Why do they hate us?' nonsense. The correct question is 'Why don't we hate them?' We certainly should. Their belief- system needs to perish just as badly as the three thousand Americans of September 11th.

Chris, it's almot as painful to read about this as it was to witness it on that terrible day; I wept all through my reading of your article. But I'm glad you wrote it and I'm glad I read it, for the same reason that I read books and see movies about the Holocaust. The only thing worse than such horrors would be to forget them, ever.

Reading the vivid story of your cousin’s experience turns vague extrapolations of what it was like into concrete reality. I’ve heard from those who survived the attacks but not from someone who was on the edge of the wave of destruction, “running” for their life. Thank him (and you) for sharing that.

I joined a list of bloggers who will write about one individual that died on that day. In reading about the fellow assigned to me, the sadness of his family’s loss (both expressed and reading between the lines) helped to replace one of those numbers with a face – vivid and real – that brings me both sadness and anger. But for the family, I’ll focus on the sadness of that day. September 12th is another matter!

Chris: Apparantly Mel Gibson is now posting under the name of Andre Zantonavitch!

Good piece!

Mark said: >

Indeed.

And that's all the time I will spend on *that.* :-/

Chris, thank you for ALL of your touching pieces on this tragedy. We must never forget this. It hurts to see it turned into some political ploy for certain politicians and into moneymaking storylines for Hollywood. The wound is too fresh and too deep.

Thank you for posting these pieces to remind us, once again, how this was a very human tragedy that transcended ideology. It was an awful day in the history of this country, and in the history of humanity as a whole.

Thanks to the comments here on this essay, which was an extremely difficult thing to research and write.

And thanks especially to the scores of people who have written to me offlist, offering their private thoughts on the tragedy of that day, and the essays I've written to commemorate that tragedy.

As far as politics goes, of course, readers are very familiar with my views, and I'd prefer to keep this thread free of that discussion. (I still appreciate the fact that this topic necessarily entails historical and political backdrop, and appreciate the passion that posters bring to the subject, even when I disagree with them.)

As I said at Liberty and Power, "Whatever one's views of the historical and political causes and consequences of September 11, 2001, I believe it is important to 'Never Forget.'"