Consider this tale to be this blog’s FAQs. Everyone wonders these things, and most people ask me.
1. We got our loved one’s entire remains back for burial. We never set eyes on him, and thankfully, his dentist identified him for us.
You wanted to know, so I’m telling you. (If you didn’t want to know, you’re probably at an age where the World Trade Center is history to you. Read on.) That is also why we know where and how and with whom he died, and why he was where he was, instead of exiting to the street. Read on.
2. Today an entire generation has never heard of the World Trade Center before tragedy. Let’s daydream, or remember, the buildings that had more floors than any other in the world. My husband’s office, on the 66th floor, swayed in the wind so that pictures never hung straight. The towers dominated all of lower Manhattan. The WTC was called The Twin Towers because there were two, not one, each standing 110 stories (1,350 feet, or 410 m) over twin one acre (0.40 ha) footprints. The underground trains of PATH fed into its underground plaza and met up with a subway station, with an underground garage in between.
3. The morning of September 11, 2001, my husband caught his regular train like clockwork, walked to the PATH to transfer, met up with a colleague, and arrived together in the underground concourse. They avoided the crush of people on the escalators by cutting through to a freight elevator that also served the garage. There another colleague, recovering from a broken foot, was locking his car and hobbling to the elevator. Together they started up the two floors to the lobby, but they never made it there.
For 47 minutes, the time between when the first airliner hit that building and when the tower collapsed, they were in the freight elevator. He did not die saving a life. He was in public service for his entire career, so he’s a hero to me and our son.
4. To be precise, for four weeks, my husband was under 110 stories plus 2 garage levels of rubble with the other two men, beneath what became known as Ground Zero. The fires burned in what people called “The Pile” for 100 days. Above ground, people were braving toxic smoke to fight the fire. More people were removing 130,000 smoldering tons that had once been above ground, but which were pounded into the foundation, pancaked like tree rings. Our loved one was found in that freight elevator with the two other men. He was also found with his laminated work identity card and some good old greenbacks. His wedding ring was never found, but I suspect his flesh, waterlogged from weeks of firefighting, had sublimated it.
If you want to know something else, you may comment. I may reply. Keep it clean. The world has enough trolls already.