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Stan Kid

Managing Editor of the Tocquevillian Magazine, Mr. Kid is also a newspaper columnist and police sergeant on Long Island.


    A Brief Respite From Hell
    Stan Kid

    September 13, 2001

    I spent last night and most of today digging through twisted steel, cement chunks, airplane parts and occasional personal belongings. I'm now home until either tonight or tomorrow when I will again return to hell.

    First, my sincere thanks. It's heartwarming, particularly right now, to know that so many of you are there and thinking of us here in NY.

    The writer in me wishes he could put some words here to give you some idea of what truly happened--some clear word picture of the horrific devastation that was visited on the WTC. I'm sorry, I simply cannot.

    The best I can do is offer some of my feelings as I arrived at ground zero. I got there after dark, although, even in daylight, it is somewhat dark due to the smoke and dust that are ever-present in the awful-smelling air. My first thought was that I was seeing a Universal Studios movie set. Then, my mind flashed to one of the Batman movies, with its eerie, gothic, dark view of Gotham City. It is also a construction site--with heavy equipment beep-beeping and roaring, and hard-hatted workers everywhere--, like one of those excavations in the city with the windows cut out of the plywood that surrounds them so you can watch the crews at work. Why is that always so fascinating, I wonder?

    I and my 5 men joined in with others who were already removing debris and seeking survivors or bodies. It is this group of men and women I want to tell you about.

    In addition to Police Officers and Firefighters and Emergency Medical Crews and military personnel, there were also civilians--union men and women--carpenters, engineers, plumbers, steel workers, electricians, construction workers and more. Teens who volunteered to bring food and water and fruit and candy to the rest of us. Salvation Army. All of them working together in impromptu teams to seek both the living and the dead. Each of them desperate to find someone.

    At one point last night, a Firefighter began screaming frantically. He and two US Marines were sure they saw a hand waving from inside a partially toppled building. Immediately, fire apparatus was brought up and Firefighters went up in a bucket to the floor where there was a possible survivor. This one Firefighter kept screaming obscenities to them to get to that survivor. He was in tears and frantic. The Fire Fighters got out of their bucket and walked into the very precarious, still-burning building. After a careful search, it was determined that the "waving hand" was actually only a bit of insulation that was blowing in the occasional breeze. We all moved on, disappointed.

    How is it possible that it's so difficult to find anyone? The ambulances sit on a nearby side street, their trundles made up and ready. They're covered with dust and their presence is somewhat unnerving.

    This morning, we lined up in numerous bucket brigades, removing debris to waiting back-hoes and dump-trucks. From the top of a mountain of what was once the Twin Towers, a construction worker cried out, "We have one!" My God! The roar of the crowd of workers would easily have rivalled the sound of the jets hitting the buildings!

    "Water!" Bottles flew up toward the workers. "Back boards!" They, too, made their way up the line. "We need a canine unit!" The Labs were brought up immediately. Medical personnel followed. Then the cry, "We have two!" The feeling was indescribable. The cheers, deafening.

    It took nearly an hour before two, bright orange body bags came out to almost total silence. I can't begin to describe the disappointment. The stokes stretchers with the bags were passed hand to hand down the same line as the equipment had gone up. They were passed as tenderly and carefully as if each was holding a living soul.

    Then, before my day was over, we got 5 Firefighters out from under the rubble. Two walked out on their own. I also can't describe that feeling. I'm hoping against hope for more.

    My heart goes out to anyone who has relatives or friends who worked in the WTC and who have not yet checked in. Please don't lose hope. Through all this, hundreds upon hundreds of men and women are doing everything humanly possible (and, sometimes, it seems, beyond that) to find everyone possible. They are all working together with no recognition of difference in occupation, race, color, sex or creed. More often than not, they addresses each other as "brother" or "sister." They smile at one another and offer a hand to help one another. No one sees anyone as other than a fellow human being who is dealing with an unthinkable tragedy. And, each and every one of them will keep going until the job is done. Know that.

    These men and woman are true heros and I'm so very proud to have met them and to have stood near them.

    I'm tired and dirty and cranky and my right eye is badly irritated from dust. I'm going to go shower off the mud and dust and get some sleep. I'll be back as soon as I can. I really want a whole bunch of normal. Play nice, 'k?

    Mr. Kid was able to take photographs of the devestation while engaged in his rescue efforts. He has graciously agreed to allow them to be published here.


    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine