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Old 08-01-2006, 11:12 PM   #49 (permalink)
william
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: McMurdo Station
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Bodies rained on us from the sky.

I will share something rarely spoken, something for which there are no photos to be had.
I will speak of the bodies - the arms, the legs, the heads that fell from the sky.
I will tell you why some of us will never forget. Why we need no reminders.
I will share the aftermath, the despair, the pain that I feel to this day.

The hundreds obliterated. Disintegrated. In pain and fear. With the knowledge and terror that these were the last moments of their lives. Then a new rain fell. The building collapsed and the world as we knew it came to an end.

They could have made one last call, one last contact, one last whisper of love - but their time was up. The end was here. The end for us all.

And thinking back in those last moments of life some must have replayed their last conversations - those conversations they cut short, insisting that work waited, that they would speak again that night.

But no more.

Four days after Nine-Eleven, my wife and I walked the streets of New York, visiting and crying. We saw hundreds of memorials of hope and despair and will never forget.

My eyes tear as I write this, remembering the unimaginable loss of hundreds.

"Has anyone seen..."
"Six foot four, blue eyes..."
"Tattoo on left arm..."

Hundreds of people not only lost, but annihilated in a moment that tore the very soul of America, land of the Free.

...Stand beside her, and guide her...

Knowing my memory for what it is, I videotaped the day. I have never played the tape, never revisited the moments. I haven't the need to. Unlike other days, this one is burned in my mind forever. 9-15-2001. Never Forget. Never forgotten.

I live miles from Wall Street, miles from Ground Zero and yet that morning, four days after the towers fell, I step outside and smell something strong, almost next door. It is the choking smell of fire and death. Manhattan is awash in it. Hell has broken through and taught us that the sent of death isn't brimstone.

---

It's four days after 9-11. Nine-Fifteen, Two Thousand One. We make our way downtown.

An unnatural silence has fallen over the city, a silence that I hope will never come our way again. Those of you who were here might recall the subways, the streets. How eerily quiet it all was. No one talked. Whispers were all that were had. No one rushed. No one knew what to do. At that moment we all became victims, actual and potential. Death lingered in the air. Not literally. Figuratively. You could smell it.

That smell stayed with us for weeks. When life returned it found us whenever we approach The Grounds. It sat in the subways and in the streets, reminding us each time: Take heed! You smell what remains of three thousand gone!

During those days we were all suspect. We were all waiting for death to take us. Everyone watched. We trusted no one.

9-15-2001.

We turn down First Avenue and walk slowly, quietly, over to New York University Hospital, where many of the survivors were being treated. There, also, the New York City Coroner’s office will soon open shop, and the dust that were once lives will be sorted.

As we approach the hospital, we see the signs and - god this is fucking hard to write - my wife and I cry so, so hard, for there in front of us are the hopes of humans desperately trying to find Loves they will never touch or see or hear again.

You see, the Hospital and most of downtown Manhattan were covered in desperation. Thousands of signs were pinned everywhere as people hopelessly tried to fill a vacancy that would never be. Some were typed but many were hand-written. Most had photos.

"Last seen..."
"Mother of a boy and a girl..."
"If you have any information..."
"Please Come Home!"

Can you imagine what it must have been like to put a flier like this together? To try to find a recent photo, write the text? Can you imagine what it must have felt like to go around the city posting them up, looking around, hoping to see the Love of Your Life just around the corner - and each time the phone rang your heart jumps and every night you lie in bed, your mind racing, reliving each moment, not sleeping.

My wife and I read each one. These fliers become our bible; each word sacred, for someone out there loved someone so much that they took the time to write it.

These people were not killed. - They were obliterated. Mothers. Fathers. The Lonely. Humans. Gone.

We stood there and cried. We read every word, came to know their faces as we saw them posted over and over again. The curly-haired blond. The young father with the crew-cut. The girl with a beautiful smile.

Almost 3,000 People - Innocents - obliterated. Innocents from all walks of life. From multi-millionaire's to paupers. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists. All gone. We were not at war. Spare me your sophomoric arguments - we were not. We did not live in a war-zone. We had no reason to fear, to expect, to anticipate. Who would worship a god that would command a strike not against leaders or the military, but at janitors, secretaries, children?

And the heroes - the Heroes who climbed the stairs to save others, the Heroes who stayed behind to lend a hand. We’ll Never Forget them.

That day Bodies rained from the sky.

I know of and have heard of accounts from people who were there, who exited the building and saw them, whole and in parts, scattered, falling, thumping and banging. Arms. Legs. Torsos. Everywhere.

The holy Grounds were littered with Bodies.

Bodies in the streets.
Bodies in the sidewalks.
Bodies everywhere.
An eternal litany of death.

And those that jumped, those that saw the end of their lives, who tasted every last breath, who peered over the vast city, from the tops of a man-made mountain, who saw life swarming below them, and who leaped out and met their end because of the horrors that they fled. Little did they know how quickly it would All End.

Those who mock the events, who have turned it into an intellectual game…

We all wanted to help. Everyone felt the call. We flooded the Grounds with volunteers, and were told to go away, turned back, weren’t needed. But we still wanted to help. Had to. Anything, anything we could give to lend a hand, to help end the pain.

Were there survivors? Please let there be at least one. Let us dig as we have never dug before and save one mind, one intellect, one loved one.

9-15-2001. I taped that day. Taped the streets, the signs, the people.

I don't know when I'll ever have the courage to watch it.

We made our way to the Armory. In tears and silence we walk past a posted canvas of leaflets, of quick color copies done in desperation.

Reporters shamelessly ask for our opinion. We turn them away. Grief is a private thing.

9-15-2001.

We made a pilgrimage to the holy site, to see with our eyes the mouth of hell. Hundreds did the same. And though we could not approach, though those were moments of madness, of suspect, I did catch a glimpse of a holy tower, the shattered frame that still stood, the broken skeleton of 110 stories reduced to One, the wall which days before held Three Thousand souls. I will never forget.

Three thousand people.

It wasn't 9-11 that shattered our souls. It was the aftermath, the grief, the pictures posted everywhere. Lives ended in an instant. These flyers became sacred writings, posted on the eve of the end of our Innocence.

America will never be the same again.

America.

Were I to believe in fate, in karma, would this be retribution for Hiroshima and Nagasaki? But we were at war then. But they were Innocents. Janitors, secretaries, children. They were obliterated. Mothers. Fathers. The Lonely. Humans. Gone.

---

A year later my wife wants to go shopping at Century Twenty-One, a store right next to Ground Zero. And though I'm often just four blocks away, I never visited. And on that day I couldn't look, couldn't face - I turned my eyes away from the vacancy, from the echoes of Loves Lost. I had to get away.

The Towers were no longer there. Three Thousand People had died.

I hate going there.
__________________

"That's me -- call me crazy, call me a pervert, but this is something I enjoy."
- Boogie Nights

Last edited by william; 08-02-2006 at 09:32 PM.
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