Yesterday, I watched the Bill Kurtis doco The Anatomy of September 11th on A&E.; It was a very detailed and moving account of that day, but it was also great journalism — it is a joint project of the Investigative Reports unit and NYT reporters. One enormous lesson, one that you cannot help but think is going to be a hard one to learn, is that the NYPD and NYFD need to learn to work together. Their lack of ability (and apparently historical lack of desire, according to Jim Dwyer of the NYT) to coordinate with each other on that day resulted in unnecessary deaths.
I remember the total lack of helplessness I felt on that day; I have a good amount of my mother’s side of the family in NYC, and not being able to get through (by cell or landline) in the immediate aftermath was awful. What I will not forget, later that October, is going to my 20th high school reunion (Stuyvesant HS, in Manhattan). The new Stuy — I attended at the old building on 15th and 1st — was a staging ground for rescue workers after 9/11, as it is located very close to Ground Zero (see photo below).
Ground Zero was still smouldering; you couldn’t get near the area at the time of my reunion. It was a moving reunion, seeing my classmates after so long, but especially in this context. Many came from afar, as I did, but there are many who still live and work in NYC, some in downtown. So many were shellshocked and in grief over 9/11, but they poured out personal stories. Some even came in late to the reunion, because they were emergency workers or volunteers at the site, and just dropped by between shifts to get together.