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    9/11/01 and Memory

    9/11/01 and Memory

    Memory is a strange thing.

    There are many things I remember about the attacks on 9/11/01:  The first announcement when I was at my desk in Providence that a “small plane” had hit the World Trade Center, the announcement of a second “small plane” and then the reality; the collapse of the buildings, something that was unimaginable; the films of people jumping from windows above the flames; and the images of medical staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital and elsewhere who waited for thousands of injured who never appeared because there were so few survivors.

    But three things keep coming back to me.

    First, the missing persons flyers posted throughout downtown New York City.  Whether on walls or held up by relatives on the street, each poster represented grieving families and friends:

    Second, the sound of the PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) alarms worn by firemen, which continued chirping after the buildings collapsed, each one representing a life lost.  I never have been able to erase that sound from my memory:


    Third, the farewell messages from people trapped above the flames or on Flight 93 left on answering machines of loved ones.

    The one I remember most vividly was that of Melissa Harrington Hughes who was visiting New York on business.  Melissa did speak to her father, who recounts the events here, and then left this message for her husband who was asleep in San Francisco and didn’t answer the phone in time.  When he tried to call her back, the call didn’t go through.

    Those are my memories.

    Added:  While it’s still live, I’ll include the live feed of the reading of the names today.  It’s very moving as relatives are reading the names. [reading over, embed removed 1:15 p.m.]


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    ironghost | September 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    You mentioned the PASS system. My wife worked at Skytel, a two way paging company.

    BannedbytheGuardian | September 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I suggest an article in The Daily Mail (UK ) that explores the situation of the people who were forced to face the only option of exiting via the windows & not burn to death.

    A paper that is heavy on celebrities does an excellent job of focusing on a taboo area for Americans & the absurd medieval judgments that these people were in American eyes sinners because jumping was willful & thus suicide.

    It does no earthly good but I have these people in my thoughts even if their countrymem have photoshopped them from memory.

    Relgious beliefs can be cruel & a crime against humanity & life itself.

    Soccerdad | September 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

    My brother in law escaped from the 51st floor of the north tower. The detail I remember from his account was that the stairwells were extremely hot. (They were crowded and I’m guessing that the ventilation system was not working.) The emergency personnel overseeing the evacuation broke open soda machines and were handing drinks to the escapees. A firefighter handed him a bottle of water about the 20th floor. He realized some 45 minutes later after he was safe that the hero who had aided his escape was dead.

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