Remembering a 9/11 the GOP wants you to forget: Community servants raced TO tragedy at WTC
organically homegrown from grassroots, by luaptifer and cho
While the City fled in terror, true heroes struggled to get to where half a thousand of them ended up giving their lives trying to make the rest of us safe. Seven years later, the morning's crystal clear beauty was the metaphor of authentic American spirit. That spirit is there in the photo below, no matter what charred edifice is in the foreground, and it adrenalized the hundreds of first responders and volunteers in their final acts, acts of true heroic community service.
After seven paradoxical years, most Americans solemnly honored the service of both dead and surviving emergency responders on September 11th, 2008. But just one week before, that spirit was betrayed by desperate politicians attempting to tarnish an opponent, but, instead, trashed the fundamental backbone of an America which rushes to help those in need.
"What in God's name is a community organizer? I don't even know if that's a job."
Those words, uttered by Rudy Giuliani, spoke volumes about how the rich, the elite, and privileged view selfless actions that serve the greater good.
Rudy Giuliani was the RNC's anointed celebrity to get the base on-message with the McCain campaign's talking point, emotionally targetted for maximum impact to debut the party's savior, Sarah Palin. This was clearly an important job. The scornful glee with which the so-called America's Mayor, the mayor of 9/11 New York City, mocked community organizers was not lost to a crowd that couldn't get much whiter using bleach.
The RNC's pale 'Country First' theme was euthanized the moment Palin and Pataki reinforced the Party's official contempt for grassroots America. How ironic a setting, since within a week they'd be ginning up the base to commemorate their sacrifices on the country's solemn anniversary of 9/11, totally unmindful of the rancor they revealed for just such sacrificing individuals during their convention.
A decade of control by the Bush faction leaves the GOP nothing without message, however, and its mastery of echo chamber was amply demonstrated by an "on message" discussion in a public radio program. On 9/11, a man now retired from a police career, Don Getty, gave his "I got the memo" review of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama for NPR (Does Race Matter in '08? The View From York Pa)in York, PA:
"She has more executive experience than he does. He was a community organizer. Nobody's ever told me what a community organizer is."
This brainless piffle was from a man who, in a town a little more than two hours from Ground Zero, was probably moved by the volunteer spirit which is at the heart of community organizing. It is that spirit which put so many of his fraternity into the smoking wreckage of New York's Twin Towers.
Dan Getty, clear your head, man! Stop drinking the koolaid!
Zoom in on the image above (as I've done below). Notice how all those little red and yellow and blue dots begin resolving into human figures. Were you one of those dots, perhaps? Were your friends?
...many people were coming to the WTC to volunteer their assistance. Many volunteers were turned away as the emergency responders felt that they needed to get ewerybody away from the WTC complex.
- NIST NCSTAR 1-8: The Emergency Response Operations, page 31.
The immensity of Ground Zero's apocalyptic jaggedness still makes me shiver to know how small we really are. Understanding the heroes of 9/11 requires a different measure than the scales used to mark out city blocks or global wars. It's a measure of soul, of morality, of community... a measure that proved disposable to the campaign chimaera of promoted Bush-operatives and party-chosen McCain surrogates. As having once been the assassins' target, The NYT observed that Mr. McCain knew what he was getting....
People who seem to be the same size as you and me were real giants who could muster the strength to swim against the tide of their personal fears and the City-stream of refugees crushingly reinforcing the danger to their immediate futures. They were able to do so because their value was measured by what they would do for their community.
The red, white, and blue of the FDNY are colors that ran TOWARDS disaster that day.
The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) caused the deaths of 2,749 poople. Inc1uded in the group were approximately 421 emergency responders from The Fire Department of the Clty of New York (FDNY), The New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ}, from WTC security firms and volunteer emergency responders who were in the WTC area of the city when the attack occurred.
Paula Zahn caught Giuliani being human at least once in the weeks after 9/11, there's proof (CNN transcript, America's New War: Giuliani on Local Radio Show):
GIULIANI:And it is true, one of the ways in which they can help us, people volunteer at our volunteer center all the time, and the family center, and we have so many -- we have more people than we can use.
But as is true of anything in contact for very long with the Bush Administration, corruption is like rust that eats away until the core virtue crumbles. And who one hangs out with on the corner matters. We saw McCain, hanging out with the very Bush operatives who destroyed McCain's 2000 campaign, absorb the poison of the Bush-RNC's campaign talking points.
Never Forget! GOP Mocks Public Service. The article's title is clear about the Party's official betrayal of such community heroes, by corrupt elites who have ridden the tragedy of the New American Century for all it's worth. Their message-machine's power of repetition has been geared to flush our memories clean making room for the newly manufactured 'reality':
Palin, Giuliani and Pataki denigrated not only the tens of thousands of community organizers who help everyday citizens to participate in shaping their society and the millions of Americans who volunteer as community activists but also a long American tradition of collective self-help that goes back to the Boston Tea Party.
How ironic that Mayor 911, Rudy Giuliani, and the rest of the RNC elites chose to mock the essence of the American spirit, to laugh at those who work for no pay, for little pay, but for believing in together we are stronger than each of us individually. How unbelievably sad it is for us that the leaders of the grand old party demean the work of church ladies, civic volunteers, community organizers who make sure our elderly do not freeze in winter, who get enough food, are driven to their doctors... how tragic for our country that this is the lesson of the RNC.
McCain absorbed it well.
I wasted too many words on the RNC message-mongers since my objective is to honor 9/11's American-spirited first-responders. Sorry, I am still sickened by the GOP Convention's contemptuous betrayal of public service. I'll waste no more words on that hollow shell.
My respect goes to the hundreds of people who, in the American spirit of community service, surely must have had second thoughts... en route to Ground Zero that day. Some are now dead but scars from untold experiences of the survivors are probably still stretched every day in their ongoing community service.
To better understand what they faced, my search was benefitted by the massive product of yet another volunteer endeavour at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Final Reports of the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster and, particularly, the 8th volume, NIST NCSTAR 1-8: The Emergency Response Operations (index page).
It seems an exhaustive attempt to know what happened and then to use that knowledge to change the way we prepare for emergency responses in the future.
I thought that the best way to honor the heroes of 9/11 is simply to present NIST's findings that first responders encountered. It is my hope that readers will process in their own minds, what it might be like to run up 30 flights of stairs carrying half again one's own body mass, for example. People like these are prepared for such things everyday.
It struck me that a real sense of the hellish circumstances those servants of the community faced is clear from the compressed timeline of events.
- Two minutes after the first plane hit, 26 units of the FDNY were dispatched, at 08:48 AM.
- By 09:34, the first firefighter was killed by the impact of someone who had fallen from Tower 2.
Image-captured excerpts of NIST scientists and technologists volunteer intestigation, NIST NCSTAR 1-8: The Emergency Response Operations. Linked in that index page is the full report available for download as a pdf file.
Abstract of the report.
Emergency responders' first encounters with hell.
Effect of the 2d aircraft's impact upon emergency operations.
Fully-equipped firefighters fought gravity up thirty flights against a terrified human tidal wave.
The complexity of chaotic operations turned to apocalypse when Tower 2 collapsed.
On the other side of hell, only bones of an icon remained for analysis by the battalion of brilliant public servants to understand how they might preventatively save lives of the next hundred heroes.
And, of course, the lives of less elite people, like you and me.
The rolls of hundreds who won't return from service are excerpted in this fourteen page pdf file.
Please never forget what they gave on that day, nor that many more continue to serve us everyday.