Four Stories of Sept. 11, 2011
Local Firefighters Travel to Lower Manhattan
A woman reaches out to touch a piece of steel from the World Trade Center which is on display at American Legion Post 184 in Palm. Dozens came out Sunday at noon for a remembrance held at the memorial. See this weeks print edition for more photos of other observances.
This is the first of four stories. Please see this weeks print edition for the remaining 3 stories.
The ring of security around Lower Manhattan, New York on Sept. 11, 2011 was just one sign of how our way of life has changed since the horrific terrorist attacks ten years ago. Amid new “credible” threats against the city's bridges and tunnels planned for this past weekend, police were taking no chances as many vehicles were stopped and searched entering the city.
Once past the security checkpoints and across the rivers that surround Manhattan, tens of thousands of visitors mingled among mourners who lost family or friends on Sept. 11, 2001.
The area once called “Ground Zero” is now a memorial park with two giant reflecting pools, hundreds of trees and a giant, granite marker with the names of more than 2,600 people who died on the day the towers fell. Overlooking the site is the under-construction, 80-story “Freedom Tower,” or as the politically correct prefer to call it, “One World Trade Center.”
When finished, the building will rise to 1,776 feet, several hundred feet taller than the World Trade Center Towers stood.
The contingent of area volunteer firefighters arrived at the home of FDNY Engine 4 and Ladder 15 around 6:45 a.m. Sunday morning. They included Chief John Miller and Larry Roeder of the Green Lane Fire Company, Lt. John Wells and Andrea Clarke of the Richlandtown Fire Company, and Capt. Ryan Watts, Jim Carroll, Will Shutte-Corona and Merrill Foley of the Milford Township Fire Company.
Engine 4 lost seven firefighters that day; Ladder 15 lost eight. Located just six blocks from the site of the attacks, the firefighters of Ladder 15 reached the 78th floor of the South Tower, fighting floods from broken pipes and fires spread by jet fuel, while evacuating people to the only working elevator on the 40th floor. They were performing those duties when the tower fell.
Dozens of emergency and fire apparatus, brought in from Brooklyn, were staged in the area surrounding the site of the official ceremonies between West, Vessey, Liberty and Church streets. It was a precautionary measure in the event that something were to happen to the bridges or tunnels, additional equipment and emergency service personnel would already be staged in Manhattan.
President Barack Obama arrived via the Marine-1 helicopter around 7:30 a.m. The heliport where it landed is just two blocks south of the “Engine 4/Ladder 15 House.” The landing site was surrounded by a Coast Guard cutter, two smaller Coast Guard gun boats and three NYPD boats in the East River. Two NYPD helicopters flew overhead while police spotters and snipers were on nearby rooftops watching for any sign of suspicious activity. More than 50 police officers awaited the arrival of the Commander-in-Chief. Two military helicopters and one carrying a contingent of Secret Service agents landed prior to the president. Once on the ground, the agents surrounded Marine-1 and a black limousine sped to the helicopter’s steps to ferry the Obamas to the memorial services at the hallowed site.
The president’s motorcade passed within 15 feet of onlookers as it rolled through the intersection of Old Slip and South Street. A somber-looking president could be seen as he made the short trip to deliver his message from the memorial site.
First responders (police, fire and emergency services personnel) were banned from that memorial site and most chose to attend services at their firehouses. Only family members of victims were permitted at the memorial.
In addition to President Obama, other officials attending included former president George W. Bush, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani. After the memorial service, family members read the names of all of those killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. By 1 p.m. the service was over and the area slowly opened up to the public.
Emergency service personnel from Australia, England, Germany, France and Poland stopped in to visit at the South Street base of the local volunteers. Hugs, handshakes, patches, pins and email addresses were exchanged in the true spirit of the worldwide firefighters’ brotherhood.
After the crowd at the World Trade Center memorial dissipated, some of the local firefighters wandered north six blocks to get a glimpse of the still-under-construction memorial and Freedom Tower. Along the way some of them were met by protestors accusing the United State’s government of orchestrating the attacks and other picketers voicing their opinion for and against building a mosque two blocks north of the memorial site.
But the focus of the day was to remember those who died in the attacks.
The day ended for the local volunteer firefighters at a Staten Island memorial service sponsored by the FDNY retirees. It was the final event of a busy day for the locals. Across the upper New York Bay, in Lower Manhattan, two 48-ft., square beams of light known as the “Tribute in Light” shone into the night sky as the final memorial on this 10th anniversary of a day America will never forget.