Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Fun


Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Memories

Too good not to post today in it's entirety, via Hot Air.

The following was taken from Allahpundit’s twitter stream, over roughly a two-hour period on the night of 9/10. This may be the first time - no, it is the first time - that I’ve ever seen anything on twitter that reads like poetry. For this reason, I’ve preserved the form as best as possible.

Eight years ago, I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. in my downtown Manhattan apartment because…

…I thought a truck had crashed in the street outside

I remember pacing my apartment for the next 15 minutes thinking, stupidly, that a gas line might have been hit in the North Tower…

…and then I heard another explosion. I hope no one ever hears anything like it.

All I can say to describe it is: Imagine the sound of thousands of Americans screaming on a city street

It was unbelievable, almost literally

I remember being on the sidewalk and there was an FBI agent saying he was cordoning off the street…

…and then, the next day, when I went back for my cats, they told me I might see bodies lying in front of my apartment building (I didn’t)

We held a memorial service in October for my cousin’s husband, who was “missing” but not really…

He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. They found a piece of his ribcage in the rubble not too long afterwards.

This is the guy who conspired to murder him:

Had a friend from the high school speech and debate team who disappeared from the 105th floor

Had another friend of a friend who worked on the 80th floor or so, married six weeks before the attack…

Speculation is that he was right in the plane’s path, and was killed instantly when it plowed through the building

Did a bit of legal work for a couple whose son worked in the upper floors. Was dating someone else up there at the time…

I was told that she managed to call her parents while they were trapped up there and that the call “was not good”

Never found out if it was cut off by the building collapsing or not

I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. thinking “I hope that was just a pothole.” Then I heard a guy outside my window say, “Oh shit”

Opened the window, looked to my left, saw huge smoke coming out of the WTC

Left at around 9:30, decided to walk uptown thinking that the buildings would never collapse and that…

…I’d be back in my apartment by the next night. I never went back. It was closed off until December.

I remember thinking when I was a few blocks away that the towers might collapse, and so I walked faster…

…although I sneered at myself later for thinking that might be true and for being a coward. Although not for long.

To this day, you can find photos of thousands of people congregated in the blocks surrounding the Towers, seemingly…

…waiting for them to fall that day

When I got to midtown, rumors were that Camp David and the Sears Tower had also been destroyed. I remember looking around…

…and thinking that we had to get out of Manhattan, as this might be some pretext to get us into the street and hit us with some germ

I callled my dad — and somehow miraculously got through — and told him I was alive, then headed for the 59th street bridge

To this day, the scariest memory is being on that bridge, looking at the Towers smoking in the distance,

and thinking maybe the plotters had wired the bridge too to explode beneath us while we were crossing it.

I remember talking to some guy on the bridge that we’d get revenge, but…

…you had to see the smoke coming from the Towers in the distance. It was like a volcano

I remember being down there two months later. There was a single piece of structure…

…maybe five stories tall of the lattice-work still standing. It looked like a limb of a corpse sticking up out of the ground.

They knocked it down soon after

At my office, which I had just joined, I was told that…

…some people had seen the jumpers diving out the windows to escape the flames that morning

There was a video online, posted maybe two years ago, shot from the hotel across the street,,,

…and it showed roughly 10-12 bodies flattened into panackes lying in the central plaza

Maybe it’s still online somewhere

You have to see it to understand, though. You get a sense of it from the Naudet brothers documentary hearing…

…the explosions as the bodies land in the plaza, but seeing it and hearing it are two different things

I remember after I got over the bridge into Queens, I heard a noise overheard…

…that I’d never heard before. It was an F-15, on patrol over New York. Very odd sound. A high-pitched wheeze.

I remember on Sept. 12, when I got on the train to go downtown and try to get my cats out of the apartment…

…the Village was utterly deserted. No one on the streets. Like “28 Days Later” if you’ve seen that

We made it to a checkpoint and the cop said go no further, until my mom intervened. Then he took pity…

…and agreed to let me downtown IF I agreed that any exposure to bodies lying in the streets was my own fault.

Didn’t see any bodies, but I did see soldiers, ATF, FBI, and so on. The ground was totally covered by white clay…

…which I knew was formed by WTC dust plus water from the FDNY. It look like a moonscape.

There was a firefighter at the intersection and I flagged him down and asked if I could borrow his flashlight, since…

…all buildings downtown had no power. He gave me a pen flashlight.

The doors to my building at Park Place were glass but had kicked in, presumably by the FDNY, to see if there were…

…survivors inside. When I got in there, all power was out. No elevators, no hall lights…

…I had to feel my way to the hall and make my way up to my apartment on the third floor by feeling my way there…

…When I got there, the cats were alive. There was WTC dust inside the apartment, but…

…for whatever reason, I had closed the windows before I left to walk uptown that day, so dust was minimal. I loaded them…

…into the carrier and took them back to Queens. That was the last I could get into the apartment until December 2001,…

…and then it was only to get in, take whatever belongings were salvageable (i.e. not computer), and get out. I lived…

in that apartment from 7/2001 to 9/2001, but given the diseases longtime residents have had…

…I’m lucky I decided to move

My only other significant memory is being in the lobby of the apartment building on 9/11…

…and trying to console some woman who lived there who said her father worked on the lower floors of the WTC. I assume…

…he made it out alive, but she was hysterical as of 9:30 that a.m. Who could blame her?

I do remember feeling embarrassed afterwards that…

…I initially thought the smoke coming out of the North Tower was due to a fire or something, but…

…it’s hard to explain the shock of realizing you’re living through a historical event while you’re living through it.

For months afterwards, I tried to tell people how I thought maybe the Towers…

…were going to be hit by six or seven or eight planes in succession. Which sounds nuts, but once you’re in the moment…

…and crazy shit is happening, you don’t know how crazy that script is about to get.

When I left at 9:30, I thought more planes were coming.

I left because I thought, “Well, if these planes hit the building the right way, it could fall and land on mine.”\

I remember getting to 57th Street and asking some dude, “What happened?”

And he said, “They collapsed” and I couldn’t believe both of them had gone down. Even after the planes hit…

…I remembered that the Empire State Building had taken a hit from a military plane during WWII and still stood tall

So it was never a serious possibility that the WTC would collapse. I assumed…

…that the FDNY would get up there, put out the fire, and the WTC would be upright but with gigantic holes in it

It took an hour for the first tower to go down, 90 minutes for the second.

Even now, despite the smoke, I’m convinced most of the people trapped at the top were alive…

…and waiting, somehow, for a rescue. The couple whose legal case I worked for told me that…

…their son and his GF contacted her father very shortly before the collapse. Which makes sense. As much smoke as there was…

…if you have a five-story hole in the wall to let air in to breathe, you’re going to linger on.

So for many people, the choice probably quickly became: Hang on, endure the smoke, or jump

If you listen to the 911 calls, which I advise you not to do, some of them chose “hang on”

Although needless to say, if you ever saw the Towers…

…you know how dire things must have been up there to make anyone think the better solution was “jump”

They were ENORMOUS.

Another weird memory: Shortly after I got my apartment in lower Manhattan, on Park Place…

…I remember taking my brother to see “The Others,” which had just opened.

And afterwards I remember taking him up to the rooftop of my building to admire the Towers. According to Wikipedia…

“The Others” opened on August 10, 2001, so this must have been within 10 days or so afterwards. Very eerie.

And I remember we also went to Morton’s and Borders right inside the WTC complex to celebrate my new job

That Borders was gutted, needless to say, on 9/11. You could see the frame of the building in the WTC lobby after the attack

I was reading magazines in there the week or two before

One of the weirdest feelings, which I’m sure everyone can share, is that I remember distinctly feeling…

…in the month or two before the attack that “important” news no longer existed. It was all inane bullshit about…

…shark attacks and Gary Condit and overaged pitchers in the Little League World Series. To this day…

…I try never to grumble about a slow news day because the alternative is horrifyingly worse

After the attack, maybe a month after, I remember going to see “Zoolander” in Times Square and…

…coming up out of the subway tunnel having the distinct fear that…

…the sky would light up and a mushroom cloud would appear instantly above my head in my lost moment of consciousness. No joke. In fact…

…I ended up going to bed around 6:30 p.m. for maybe three months after 9/11.

Even when I ended up working downtown for years after that, with a luxurious view of upper Manhattan from the top floors…

…I always feared looking out the window because I was paranoid that at that precise moment, the flash would go off…

…and that’d be the last thing I see. And in fact, for a moment in 2003 when the power went out city-wide,

…I did think that was what was happening. The wages of 9/11.

I leave you with this, my very favorite film about the WTC. If you’re a New Yorker, have a hanky handy. No. 3 is golden

One more note: If you’ve never seen a photo of the smoke coming from the Trade Center after the collapse, find one.

Watching it from the 59th bridge, it looked like a volcano. There was so much smoke, it was indescribable. Just *erupting* from the wreckage

Tim: 9/11 survivor

I adore this speech. It touches my very sad heart.

Meet Tim, a 9/11 survivor from the 61st Floor. I first printed his story in 2001 when I was a mere newspaper reporter, traumatized by the attack on my country and commissioned to keep my emotions detached and do my job. It wasn't an easy couple of weeks. Instead, days after 9/11, days without sleep, I went home as the sun went down, turned on my TV, and mourned my country like an American, not a reporter.

I heard the first notes of panic listening to a morning show on my drive into work that infamous day. By the time I had arrived at the news room, our country would never go back to the lackadaisical world only an hour earlier. Dispatched to the Tulsa International Airport, I watched the towers collapse in a crowded airport restaurant standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans from all over the country grounded on their way to a different destination.

Standing in a daze, numb with shock like the rest of the country, I overheard a man talking to a stewardess. He was a safety officer for American Airlines, grounded and confused and worried about his fellow airline personnel. I chased him down the crowded lobby, cornered him near a exit door, and pleaded for a few minutes in the midst of national frenzy and panic.
Graciously, he talked to me about what he KNEW had happened. Those pilots were dead, he said. Long before they flew into the buildings, they were dead. No way would any of them release their command of the plane other than through physical force. Safety had been breached and here's the truth, he told me, it wouldn't be all that hard to accomplish.

His co-workers were dead. And many more might be, as well. I learned this moments before the Pentagon attack report, moments before the crash in Pennsylvania.

Americans bonded then. All of us. We joined together and realized, no matter our personal political views, we all wanted to live. We wanted our families safe. We wanted the glory of America to rise again.
And it has.

What we can never do is trivialize the tragedy for politically-correct purposes. We must remember. So here, yet again, is my time with Tim Veldstra, a 9/11 survivor from the 61st Floor. His story will always be a part of our own.


Tim Veldstra watched burning papers flap against the window from his view on the 61st Floor. It must have been an explosion. It could have been an accident. It had to be coming from the other building.
He walked out of the coffee room inside the World Trade Center, second twin tower, on September 11, 2001, and looked for an explanation. It was 8:45 a.m. on the infamous morning and Veldstra had no idea of what was happening.
He had been thinking about his wife and daughter back home in Tulsa when he heard a boom.
"It was like a ticker tape parade falling down in front of my window," Veldstra said.
He had flown into New York from Tulsa three days earlier on a three-week trip. Veldstra, a financial adviser, had been only briefly oriented with the building the day before.
"The first day up there the first thing you want to do is look out those windows," Veldstra said, concerning the World Trade Center. "We went around to all the windows on our break." From one window you could look down on Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Now beginning his second day and taking his coffee with creme and sugar, Veldstra left the break room and walked into the hallway to see a broken window and shattered glass on the floor. Believing an explosion had occurred in the other building, he walked around to the windows still looking for an explanation.
He was unaware of the dramatic sequence of events that had started their decent into history. The second tower, his building, would be attacked in a matter of minutes.
"I was in trouble and did not know it," but God did, Veldstra said.
Still on the 61st Floor, he heard the intercom system switch on and a man saying, "We need to evacuate the building. We need to use the stairs."
But where were the exits?

"I didn't see any exit for stairs, This was my second day," Veldstra said. He headed back into his office to grab his briefcase before heading to the exit. "Everyone else left everything - purses, wallets, laptop computers. They thought we would be back in a couple of hours."
Through the single door exit, he stepped into the small walking area.
"The staircase was no bigger than you would have in your house."
He had walked the sidewalks of New York his first night in town following a late dinner and had been shoulder to shoulder in a crowd. Now again he found himself in the midst of a crowd, many of them panicking, as they headed shoulder to shoulder down the narrow staircase.
"We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 60 there were people coming in. We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 59 there were people coming in."
Outside the narrow staircase now jammed with people, the world had begun watching. Every radio station broadcast the breaking news, every television program was interrupted, every life had tuned in to witness Veldstra's life.
"I had no fear at all. Some people did. Some people were terrified," he said.
Before he had left Oklahoma, Veldstra's trip had received a lot of prayers.
"My wife was just not feeling good with letting me go," he said. Every person they knew, every person they met, she would say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." They would go to Wal-Mart and see people they knew and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." Someone would call their house and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim."
As he walked down the stairs, Veldstra knew her feelings had prompted thousands of prayers on his behalf. When he had arrived in New York days earlier, he had called her the first evening, "See? I'm fine."
But now he understood.
The intercom switched on again. The man said, "Your building is secure," then incomprehensible words, and then a repeat, "Your building is secure."
The noise level in the staircase was too high, too crowded, too garbled for many to understand. Nonetheless, some turned away and headed back, perishing when the tower collapsed.
Veldstra kept on.
Feeling he had not yet found his explanation, Veldstra continued, one step at a time behind the person in front of him like the person in front of them, and so on, and so on.
The air had become muggy. It would eventually take him half an hour to climb down the tower.
Past the 31st Floor, Veldstra met with the second event.
Inside the staircase, the entire building moved from one side and then swing back to the other side, absorbing the shock from the second plane. However, inside, the wall to wall crowd knew nothing.
"People started screaming, pushing and shouting," he said. He needed to stop. he wanted to take a minute and consider stopping.
Up against the wall, Veldstra said people continued "coming by like a herd of cattle, pounding into my chest."
The panic had caused an increased pressure from people behind to move quickly. Although he considered stopping on a floor to escape the crowd, Veldstra started the descent again.
"We just kept going floor by floor by floor all the way from 61."

Less than 10 floors to go, smoke filled the already stuffy staircase. At Floor Seven, the smoke started and grew thicker as they continued down. Some covered their mouths with handkerchiefs or articles of clothing. He just prayed for an open door at the bottom of the staircase.
"I still did not have any fear, but I had all kinds of people praying for me," Veldstra said.
In the lobby, he was directed by security, firefighters, and police officers to head through the mall instead of exit out the front where feet of debris had been piled.
Now blocks away, the crowd was no longer pressed to keep moving.
Meeting up with fellow co-workers from Oklahoma, Veldstra and the group headed toward the hotel as he glanced up at the holes in the building, still unaware of what had caused it. Walking away, he heard a woman scream and turned around once more.
"There was something falling and I did not even know what it was," he said.
Then he comprehended. People were jumping out of the building.
"Seeing those people fall is the most sickening feeling. They fell so long," Veldstra said.
The seriousness of the situation met him at Ground Zero.
Although he would soon understand, Veldstra said he found it difficult to absorb the idea the situation had been hopeless for these people, so dire was the circumstance they leaped out the windows with no hope for survival.
A mile away, Veldstra and the Oklahoma group walked from behind several buildings to get their last chance at seeing the towers, but they had disappeared. The landmarks were gone, vacating the New York skyline.
"The first thing I see from the television in (my hotel) lobby is the plane flying into the building."
Now he had his explanation. now he knew what the rest of the world knew. He had escaped, thousands had not.
Veldstra said his experience is his testimony of God's goodness, a testimony he tells frequently since that day, a testimony he'll tell until his last day.

The World Trade Center site is shown Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 in New York on the seventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) are scheduled to visit the site Thursday.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tim Hawkins on Church

When I laugh so hard I cry, I want you to sob, too.

"I pray a hedge of protection around my pancreas.."

I've done that before.