In the shadow of the Towers - Remembering the Heroes of 9/11
9/11 will be forever marked as a day of terror and sadness.
But at the same time, it will also be remembered as a day of remarkable history and an unforgettable moment in the history of United States and Mankind.
As we come upon the tenth anniversary of the attacks, I thought it would be appropriate to look beyond the terror and pay tribute to some of the many heroes of 9/11.
Here, in no particular order, are folks I feel deserve some recognition for their actions both during and after the attacks.
Pretty self explanatory here. The first responders and rescue workers who helped get people out of the towers safely at the cost of their own lives were a fine example of true American heroism.
Not only did they do a hell of a job dealing with a completely unprecedented disaster scenario, they became the face of resilience for America in the days following the attacks.
They reminded us that freedom comes with a steep price. Both departments suffered heavy casualties on 9/11.
This was reflected beautifully in an ice scuplture made by Canadian Darlene Racicot showing an Angel comforting a weary NY firefighter holding an American flag.
A banker and volunteer firefighter who worked in the twin towers, Crowther is commonly known as the “Man with the red bandana” because after the attacks happened, he covered his mouth and nose with the bandana (which he had carried everywhere with him since he was a child) and helped lead people to safety.
Although he died on 9/11, he is credited with saving the lives of dozens of others.
The Passengers and crew of Flight 93
As a result of the brave actions of the people on this plane, the phrase “Let’s Roll” has taken on a new significance.
Though the plane went down with the loss of all onboard, it was prevented from reaching its intended target of the White House, where it could have caused far greater damage and loss of life than it actually did.
Though the circumstances of his death are tragic and disputed, you can’t deny Pillman was a man of courage and bravery.
Throwing aside the security of huge paydays in the NFL, Tillman joined the military to fight for his country.
Regardless of how he died, Tillman was a hero through and through.
Whether or not you agree with his political views, Giulani was the glue that held NYC together through the worst days it’s ever had. People turn to their leaders in times of tragedy and Giuliani stepped up when he needed to and helped keep New York running in the hours and days following the attacks.
George W Bush
Regardless of how you feel about the Iraq War or the Hurricane Katrina response or other aspects of the Bush Presidency, it’s hard to refute that “W” was effective in rallying America following 9/11.
The sense of unity and American Patriotism that sprang forth after the attacks had likely not been seen since the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks 60 years prior.
It’s no secret why Bush’s approval ratings were so high after the attacks. He told Americans to be proud of their nations and themselves and vowed to find and punish whoever was responsible for the attacks.
The Canadian People (mainly in Newfoundland)
Immediately following the 9/11 attacks airspace was shut down across North America. Such a shutdown had practically been unheard of and after the order was issued, air traffic controllers had to figure out what to do with dozens of planes still in the air.
A good chunk of those planes ended up routed to Gander, Newfoundland where displaced Americans were greeted with an outpouring of support, comfort and supplies from the Canadian people.
This is all reflected in a great DVD called “A diary between friends.”
As a Canadian myself, I was very proud of my country that day.
Seal Team Six
Although they had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or the military action that followed soon after, they were responsible for finally eliminating Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks.
Not only that, they were able to do so without a single American casualty.
Killing Bin Laden earned them a well deserved permanent place in the annals of American Heroism.
The American People
Last, but most certainly not least was the response from Americans themselves.
Reeling from the attacks, Americans responded with an outpouring of blood, monetary and supply donations as well as new resilience and national pride.
I was in Canada in 2001, but as I watched American news shows and sports events and whatnot, I could see a people standing up and supporting their nation and it was great to witness.
Americans take a lot of flack around the world for all manner of things, but there’s no doubt in my mind the human spirit is still alive and well in this country.
It was proven on 9/11. It will be proven again.
God Bless America.