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September 11, Five Years Removed

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Today's date raises different emotions out of each person.

For some, the only reaction is sadness. The loss of a relative, friend or colleague due to the attacks of September 11, 2001 have made some of us numb.  Some of us feel anger and outrage and a desire for revenge.  Still some of just don't feel anything.

I organized and ran Northeastern University's September 11 Memorial and Vigil between 2003-2005. Each year, fewer people attended.  Finally, in 2005 someone wrote a letter to the editor of the school's newspaper, basically saying that it was time to move on and forget about 9/11.

Indeed September 11, 2001 has been used by both sides of many issues to create political arguments about war, terror and individual rights.  For this reporter, that day was not about war, or terror or individual rights.  September 11 was about people at their worst and at their best.

It was about the sheer lack of hesitation shown by hundreds of firefighters as they ran up 100 flights of stairs to save a few people locked inside their offices. And while the office workers ran down, freed, the rescuers continued upward.

If there is going to be a political argument about September 11, I will make the argument that when everyone else is running away from something, these people are running towards it. Yet fire houses and police stations continue to close nationwide while health benefits start to slide. The American hero worship that took place immediately after 9/11 has been lost, and I consider that a true shame.

The movie World Trade Center was emotional and moving. It was a tasteful portrayal of the suffering that took place that day and the bravery of rescuers that takes place every day. The movie is a true story, and if anything, the literal sea of rescuers the movie portrayed was underestimated.

I know this because my father, a veteran Connecticut firefighter, was there.

So, while police and fire stations continue to close and benefits continue to get cut, a new great tragedy arises. Most of the rescuers that volunteered their time and energy saving lives in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center have or will soon develop serious respiratory problems, according to reports.  So far, almost 70 percent of all New York City 9/11 rescue workers have been affected.

The loss of life on 9/11 was unimaginable and terrible, but we now face an aftermath that may take or shorten more lives than originally lost five years ago today.  But fire houses and police stations continue to close. Medical benefits continue to be cut.

And then you can make every other political and cultural argument you'd like, but you will find me insistent on the argument for the rescuers.

Many people said that the two Hollywood films released about the September 11 attacks were "too soon."   I say, if we have forgotten so much, so soon, perhaps they were too late.

Join John Guilfoil tonight at 7:00 outside 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, for a vigil and memorial.

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  • Arch Conservative

    Thanks John. Thank you for writing an article that was actually about 911 on 911 and not a prtisan swipe at Bush as all the other so called articles about 9111 are.

  • zingzing

    and thank you archie for taking an article about 9/11 and commenting about/displaying your own partisan politics. bleh.

  • It is an excellent article John and the fact that it was non-political (or bi-partisan) is why there are no comments here as of yet.

    Your absolutely right about the firefighters, when faced with a situation where everyone else is fleeing they go in. They have something in their personality that shuts the fear off and leaves them impervious to the danger and feeling that the only thing that is important is doing their job to the best of their ability. Would it not be wonderful to have politicians with those qualities?

    Even after the Towers fell and there was hardly a chance that there were survivors they kept on, even though they themselves were crushed with grief over their losses, even though, as well trained firemen they knew that the air was poison with hazardous materials and in a short period of time they would have ir-reversible damage to their lungs. They knew this but just like the fire it was not an element of concern for them. It was their job to find survivors, at whatever cost.

    It’s not without irony that these same men, who were worshipped as heroes, have to fight for medical treatments resulting from 9/11 or that they may lose their jobs all resulting from budget cuts. You would think that someone in that political wheel there is at least one spoke who is not so bent or damaged with greed that they would shout off the machine, take his or her job in their hands and collectively get them the neccessary medical treatment, refuse to lay off or cut budgets for neccessary equipment for these workers to do their jobs properly.

    Are we, the public, so powerless or lazy that we could not collectively stand for thse men and women? Do we not vote? If this is does not constitute a serious issue I don’t know what does.

    Unfortunately, this does become a political issue but it’s not something which you can point a finger at any particular party. This has no partisan signature, it is the inherent greed which penetrates all money circles. Where there is a budget there is someone who will take advantage of that budget. First, I get mine, then make the balance work.

    I don’t have the answers but I’m sure that someone does. Why do we reward the guy with the suit rather than the guy who did the actual work.
    Corporate America (this is meant as an analogy) hits fire and police stations too. You wouldn’t think these people would be so brazen. That’s what their counting on.

  • Enlightenment

    One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying “We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]”. Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I’ve ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four “pilots” among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake “pilot” of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These “hijackers” somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn’t work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn’t work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won’t let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you “aren’t supposed to think about”. Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn’t respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn’t happen, not even close. Somehow these “hijackers” must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn’t have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were “supposed to see”. Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these “hijackers” wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn’t even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying “We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down” attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers’ magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be “Muslim hijackers” the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don’t laugh) one of their passports was “found” a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously “surviving” the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also “survived” the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be “indestructable” like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn’t bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the “nineteen hijackers” is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.