Thursday, September 2, 2010

Were You There

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

In life's grand quiz show of understanding ourselves called "Who Am I" there will always be unanswered questions.

I moved into my apartment here on September 9, 2001, two days before the attack on the World Trade Center. If I had still been in New York I either would have seen it happen or I would have been stuck in a subway station underneath it.

It wasn't long before the films and video tapes were processed and we could see the results on the ground and how people reacted to it. I noticed that there were basically three types of people. There were those who stood in stunned, shocked silence. I knew one of them. There were those who ran away from it in panic. I don't refer to the inhabitants of the building. They had a perfect right to run away from it. I also knew one of them. I mean the ones in the vicinity who turned and fled the scene as fast as they could. And then there were those who ran towards it.

There were the first responders from the police and fire departments. But there were ordinary people who ran to see what they could do to help. A temporary clinic was set up in a local church. That church also housed a theatre where I had performed several times. I could have been very helpful directing people to that church and seeing that those who needed it were in and comfortable. I could have helped the medics who were caring for the injured. Who knows what I could have done?

Of those who did not run away there were a great many volunteers, ordinary people, who found some way of helping those who had barely survived the disaster and the police and fire fighters who had been overcome with smoke and exhaustion.

I have often wondered over the past 9 years what I would have done if i had been in proximity to that event. I was only a few blocks away from it waiting for my train. I had a clear view of the WTC from where I was standing. If I had already boarded the train I would have been underneath it when it happened. In either case I could have been very helpful to people who were suffering. What would I have done? Would I have stayed as far away from it as I could? Would I have stood post and pillar still in shock? Or would I have gone towards it and gotten involved?

The answer is: I don't know. It took a lot of courage to be in that neighborhood. Nobody really knew what was going to happen next. The building was on fire. People who could were jumping out of windows to their deaths to avoid being burned alive. I had worked off and on at a firm in the upper floors. People I knew and had worked with were dying, nice people, good people. The surrounding streets were strewn with body parts. Frantic evacuations were taking place in overcrowded elevators and stairways. The building was collapsing. How much of it would fall on the surrounding structures and the people below? It took heroic courage for anyone to go there and stay there. Would I have done it?.

That is a question I will never have the answer to. I like to think I am a brave man. I've faced up to other frightening experiences. But about that one I will never know. I wasn't there.

The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

Who are the 2 (two) most important people alive today? Why?

Only 7 responses so far. Summer is about to close her gates. Get with it. Don't be left out in the heat.

Thank you.


Valerie said...

That day and the few months proceeding were some of the worst of my life. I wonder what I would have done had I been there. You have me thinking. I know what I did from a state away. It is different when you are in the midst of the commotion and danger. Let us pray nothing like this ever happens to our country or any other in this world of ours. xox

Arlene (AJ) said...

DB, I'm so thankful that you weren't still living in the area on that tragic day that will be forever in our hearts. We were blessed as my Cousin Don worked in the WTC and was able to safely get out.

Liz said...

I defy anyone to know how he or she would react in a crisis.
People who have received training to cope in an emergency are at an advantage over those that have never thought they would ever be faced with overwhelming fear.
Even so the training may prove inadequate. The people who tend to cope best with such devastating scenarios are those that have previous experience in dealing with death.
The firemen that entered the building and subsequently gave their lives in order to save others had almost certainly previously faced death many times during their experiences of fighting for life.
We all know how to fight for our own life and those of our nearest and dearest but it takes a different perspective to fight for an unrelated life.
Perhaps this is what elevates us above the animals we evolved from.
In natural selection there may be an advantage for humans to collectively care for all of their species irrespective of familial bonds.
When we fail we surely drop down one rung of the ‘evolutionary ladder’ and become less worthy of inheriting the stars.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

A sad anniversary, thanks for making sure we do not forget.

Gerry said...

I had just been to New York for the first and only time in my life and I saw the twin towers. I was thinking as the bus toured past them that there had been a terrorist attack in the basement when Clinton was President, but it didn't seem like enough fuss was made over it. I went in May and in September came 9/11 so seeing the film of that plane flying into the tower was just horrifying, because I knew how tall those buildings were. Now they were gone and nobody would ever see the twin towers again. So I was glued to the TV set watching every aspect, the buildings coming down, the Mayor and President's response, the firefighters and policemen, and mostly just the ordinary citizens of NY coping. Then I read all the analyses of the buildings about what happened, the aftermath with a still burning interest. NY has always been a magnet city for me. Never forget that sole trip to New York. Theater, bus tour, and the Twin Towers.

krissy knox said...

I don't know what I would have done either. I'll never know. But I do know I did what I could from where I was. I sent food to the search and rescue, who then became the search and recovery teams. I sent them food and socks to keep their feet warm and dry. and i sent the best kind of canned dog food I could to the rescue doggies, bc I heard they were disheartened in not being able to find too many alive. And I sent money to Washington, DC, as my brother was working at the pentagon at the time, and he had to do search and rescue then recovery, even though a lot of his friends were involved. I believe i did some other things, i don't remember all now, everything effected me in so many ways. each area that was attacked effected me in some way personally, as did the whole thing. I grieved so for America. And I did the best I could to help her. I sent supplies and money where I could, volunteered where I could, counselled others whenever I could. This was hard for me, one of the hardest times of my life. I don't know what I would have done if I was at the Twin Towers. I'll never know. But I hope I helped my fellow Americans in some small way. May those who are still here, be one day at peace about the attack, and may those who died RIP.