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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 Nightmare Two Years Removed
    Stan Kid

    September 10, 2003

    Editor's Preface:

    Tocquevillian Managing Editor Stan Kid was present at Ground Zero in the days following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, working alongside his fellow policemen and firefighters, digging with bare hands through the rubble in the hopes of bringing victims out alive - hopes that we now know were to go mostly unfulfilled.

    The account below was written by Stan on September 13th, 2001. I asked him to write an addendum to this piece for our second anniversary observance, to share his thoughts on the nightmare now, from the perspective of two years distance. He respectfully declined, citing the difficulty that he has in revisiting the nightmare in any way.

    There is no distancing oneself from the horror of September 11th, of course. Two years, two decades - it doesn't matter. Nothing could ever blunt the horror or diminish the heroism of that fateful day; the day that changed America - and the world - forever.

    That's as it should it must be. America dare never forget how she was hurt that day, Americans dare never forget how they felt that day. The horror, the tears, the shock, the awe, the anger...the fury, the cries to almighty God of why? And in the days following the horror, the square-jawed pride and steely determination that raced across America like shockwaves radiating outward from Ground Zero, New York City.

    Already there are prominent voices in our own country and among our "leaders" calling for America to back off, slow down, don't rush, let the "international community" handle it, bow down and be humble - in other words, to forget. How long will it take, how much will it cost, won't it make other peoples angry?

    All of those questions could only be asked by people who have forgotten.

    But Americans haven't forgotten, Americans won't forget, and those who think that we should forget will be shaken off like dust from the feet of a free nation awakened to the harsh reality of a post-9/11 world. In the words of Thomas Paine: "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."

    Stan changed his mind about that addendum shortly after, and turned his mind just for a moment to that clear September day turned so dark, as you see presented below. May God bless him. May God grant His peace to the victims, His loving comfort to the families, His protection to our warriors and His wisdom to our leaders. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. - ed.

    September 10, 2003

    In the two years that have passed since I wrote the below, emotion-driven words, I have not found the courage to return to Ground Zero. It is hallowed ground, and I have a proprietary feeling towards it. It would pain me to watch visitors walk over the footprints of my fellow workers.

    It is not the same scene in which I dug and sweated. The air is no longer fouled by the smoke and stench or the sounds of construction equipment. It has been sanitized, a clean hole in the ground that is now a respected tourist attraction. Soon, all traces of the devastation of September 11, 2001 will have been erased, save for the inevitable memorial monument. Were I to return, there would be nothing there for me but ghosts.

    My thoughts will be with those ghosts this September 11th.

    - Stan Kid

    September 13th, 2001

    A Brief Respite from Hell
    by Stan Kid

    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 really want a whole bunch of normal.

    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine