By Gerry Moran
There are three things that people of my generation know for sure. One: we know for sure where we were when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States was assassinated
Two: we know for sure where we were when Packie Bonner saved and David O’Leary scored.
And, three: we know for sure where we were when Elvis Presley, the King of Rock & Roll, died 46 years ago this August gone.
This was the opening paragraph from a recent column of mine regarding where I was when Elvis Presley died. Now there’s another thing that my generation, and generations much younger than me, know for sure – we know for sure where we were when 9/11 occurred and rocked America to its core.
I was sitting in my principal’s office in Saint Patrick’s De La Salle Boys School when a colleague rushed in with a print-out, from our computer, of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City. “Jesus,” I exclaimed, “is this for real?”
“For real,” my colleague replied.
Later that evening I watched the TV in stunned, silence at the tragic, and unbelievable, events that were unfolding that September 11, 2001, in New York. Almost a year later my wife and I, and two great American friends, walked around Ground Zero, eerily and hauntingly quiet; the hoardings and the nearby church were festooned with photographs of loved one, notes, letters, poems, flowers, the memorabilia of a nation still grieving. Following are some interesting facts regarding 9/11 many of which I was not hitherto aware of.
On the September 11, 2001, two aeroplanes crashed into the Twin Towers of The World Trade Centre in New York City killing 2752 people, 343 of them were New York City fire personnel.
Twenty people were pulled from the rubble alive, including two Port Authority policemen, John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, who were rescued by a mysterious soldier who appeared out of nowhere, vanished without trace and became known as ‘The Lost Hero of 9/11’. McLoughlin and Jimeno were the subject of Oliver Stone’s 2006 film World Trade Centre, starring Nicholas Cage.
The mysterious soldier was Jason Thomas who had driven 30 miles to search the rubble for survivors. For five years he kept his secret to himself until he saw Stone’s movie which made a white American soldier the hero. Only then did Thomas, an African American and one of 18 children, come forward as ‘The Lost Hero of 9/11’. He wrote to Stone who apologised for the genuine error.
More than 80 nationalities suffered at least one loss from the day’s horrific events. Britain suffered the second largest loss of life, 67 out of 372 foreign fatalities.
Rick Rescorla, an Englishman, predicted the 9/11 attacks. Head of security for the finance company Morgan Stanley in Tower Two, he knew an air strike was imminent after the basement bombing of The World Trade Centre in 1993. He was so well prepared that he helped save 2,700 of Morgan Stanley employees but lost his own life in doing so.
The fires of 9/11 raged for 99 days. They started at 8.46am. on September 11 as the first plane hit the North Tower and weren’t finally extinguished until December 19.
A third skyscraper collapsed. World Trade Centre Building Number 7, a 47 storey building and one of the largest in downtown Manhattan fell during the attacks but went largely unnoticed in the media because it hadn’t been hit by a plane.
Global financial services Cantor Fitzgerald was the business most affected by the 9/11 attacks; of its 960 strong workforce it lost 658, two thirds. After the tragedy, CEO Howard Lutnick rang a colleague: “We could shut the firm and attend our friends’ funerals, or we can work harder than ever to help their families.” Ten years later, Cantor Fitzgerald handed out more than $180 million to the families of the deceased.
A single engine from one of the planes that struck the Twin Towers miraculously survived the crash and the explosion and collapse of the Towers.
The steel from the World Trade Centre was sold on. The bulk of the 185,101 tons of steel left at Ground Zero was shipped to China and India, while the remainder was used for memorial material across all 50 states.