Take a Step Back from 2020's Troubles to Recall the Horrors, Heroes of 9/11

NY Post - September 12, 2020

by Post Editorial Board

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Amid a pandemic, economic woes and a raging campaign season, as well as nationwide and too-often-violent protests, New Yorkers, and all Americans, should still take the time Friday to mark the 9/11 anniversary. The events of 19 years ago remain of seminal importance — and the sacrifices and heroism deserve honoring.

On that day in 2001, Gothamites were also preoccupied — headed to the polls for the mayoral primary. Then the planes started hitting.

One hit the North Tower, and newsies rushed to cover what seemed an accident. Then came the strike on the South Tower — and a nation realized it was under attack. The hit on the Pentagon added to the fear and confusion.

Then the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania — and America soon began to learn of how brave passengers stormed the cockpit to retake control of the flight, frustrating the terrorists at the cost of all aboard.

How many heroes the day saw:

*Frank De Martini, an architect, and his colleagues Pablo Ortiz, Pete Negron and Carlos da Costa cleared an entrance and helped workers from the 89th floor of the North Tower. They saved 50 lives — though they themselves perished.

*Equities trader Welles Crowther, 24, a volunteer firefighter in his teens, helped strangers at the 78th-floor sky lobby escape, even carrying an injured woman on his back 15 floors — then went back up to help others. He was later found dead along with several FDNY members.

*Firefighter Stephen Siller of Brooklyn’s Squad 1 had just finished his shift when he heard news of the attack. He suited up and arrived at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it was already closed. So, wearing 60 lbs. of gear on his back, he raced through by foot — and wound up giving his life as he saved others.

In all, 343 of New York’s Bravest perished after rushing into the burning towers.

The attacks killed nearly 3,000 innocents, the worst on US soil ever. Downtown remained a wasteland for weeks, as more heroes streamed in from all over to help in the rescue and recovery.

In those days, there were few Republicans and few Democrats; instead there were Americans. Folks came together in common purpose: to console, rebuild and defend the nation.

The nation united in demands that the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan hand over Osama bin Laden and the other al Qaeda leaders behind the attack — and stayed united as America went to war to ensure Afghanistan would host no more attacks.

SEAL Team 6 eventually put paid to bin Laden, as years of US and allied military and intelligence work reduced the terror group to a shadow of its former self.

And New York rebuilt — new towers at the Ground Zero site, plus a heartbreaking memorial and museum.

It’s been a long time: Nearly a quarter of Americans living today hadn’t been born yet. Yet the nation should still unite, for this day at least, in memory — and in resolve to ensure the horror never repeats.