9/11 Survivors Carry On...

Monday - 9/12/2011, 2:00am EDT

Firefighters, cops and some very brave ordinary people "own" the 9/11 story in New York City.

They were, always will be, the stars of a horrible show they never wanted to be in. Hopefully we will never forget them. A friend of mine lives next to a fire station in lower Manhattan. She said none of the men and women who were deployed that day came back. "The station was empty," she said. "Everybody was gone."

Ordinary people, unrelated passengers on a hijacked aircraft bound (they believe) for the U.S. Capitol are the heroes of the plane they forced to crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Some called friends and spouses, confirmed the WTC attacks and decided to take back the airplane, knowing it would crash. But they made it crash there, not here!

In the attack on the Pentagon, the heroes were mostly ordinary people. First responders, cops and firefighters, and civilians feds and uniformed military people. If you live in the D.C. area some of them are friends, coworkers, neighbors, relatives. Many of them performed extraordinary feats of courage and bravery that day that we will never know about. Some of the survivors are maimed for life. No amount of plastic surgery is going to be enough. They've lived with that for 10 years. And will forever.

Following the attacks, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance fund (FEEA) set up a special program for families and survivors of the WTC and Pentagon attacks. Working from the Pentagon Family Assistance Center FEEA gave out more than $400,000 to help families with mortgates, travel expenses, utility bills. And funerals.

FEEA (a feds-helping-feds charity) also setup scholarship programs for children of feds killed or seriously injured. More than 40 "kids" got $2 million to help get them through college. About a dozen are still in the educational pipeline. FEEA also gave money to survivors recovering from catastrophic burns.

In Friday's column, I recounted my 9/11 experience. In it I mentioned that one TV documentary made about that day decided to delete the thumping sound made by people who had jumped to escape the flames. The justification was that that "thumping" would be too "disturbing" to some sensitive people. Here's what some readers recall about that day:

  • I enjoyed your article. I've heard the thumping sound you describe in various documentaries on the History Channel, etc. I think removing the sound is wrong because the sound and the reaction to it of the fireman waiting for orders in the World Trade Center buildings brings home part of the absolute horror that these people suffered. For those people, making the decision to jump rather than wait for a possible rescue that we know now never was going to arrive is truly unimaginable. I understand the reasoning behind the decision to edit out the sound but I think it is an injustice to the memory of what happened that day. David, IRS

  • "I was teleworking on 9/11 when my brother telephoned to tell me to turn on the TV. Needless to say, I didn't get much work done that day after that. What I remember with the most horror was the people jumping to their deaths to avoid being burned to death." Jud from HUD

  • "I too have been reflecting on "where I was" 10 years ago. At that time I worked at 1111 Constitution Ave and actually had a call scheduled with an attorney in NYC. I called at the appointed time and all I got was a busy signal. Tried several times and still the line was busy. I called my Director and asked if he had given me the correct number and he said yes, but that a plane (at that hour only the first one had hit) had just hit one of the WTC towers and likely the phone lines were disrupted. I walked back to my office from my bosses office and looked out the window and saw great plumes of black smoke coming from the Pentagon. At that time we all realized something bigger than just a plane crash in NYC had occurred. I lived about 2 blocks from the Pentagon in Crystal City and recall hearing sirens at all hours and the smell of smoke in the air for what seemed like weeks afterwards. I will never forget….." Pam, IRS.

NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

What's that fizzy, sugary-sweet beverage you're having with lunch called? It depends on where you're from. A map created by PopvsSoda.com shows that "pop" is dominant throughout the Midwest, while "soda" is preferred in the Northeast. Southerners, meanwhile, use the term "coke" to describe all different kinds of pop, er, soda. Now THAT has to be confusing!