As part of remembering 9/11, my wife Linda DVRs History Channel documentaries of the events. As we watch them, we are struck anew at the incredible care for one another and courage on display by first responders and co-workers of those in the Twin Towers.
In one documentary, it focused on spouses and parents at home with family members in the Twin Towers and the stories of three sets of people trying to get others to safety. Within a short time, we were riveted on these stories, featuring recent interviews with those who had been watching on TV and sure that their loved one would never come home. There were also interviews with others who had been trapped in the Twin Towers and were desperately trying to get down to safety from the 71st floor of one tower and the 84th floor of the other.
As the stories begin to intertwine, one begins to realize that some of those least likely to get out did survive! For two sets of those who got out, one of the things that drove their survival was that two healthy workers teamed up to get someone weaker out of the building; in one case to help a woman who was 8-months pregnant and another case was to carry a wheelchair-bound female coworker. This cause to help another drove them to persevere and overcome obstacle after obstacle.
Then on Sunday morning, Linda came across a short video called Boatlift, the recounting of history’s largest marine rescue, even bigger than Dunkirk, the boat lift of 390,000+ British soldiers across the English channel to safety over a course of nine days.
When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, no one knew the true scope of the attack. As a safeguard, every bridge and tunnel, every subway was immediately shut down, stranding hundreds of thousands on Manhattan Island — hundreds of thousands of people totally panicked from the collapse of the two towers.
In this little-known story of the heroics of 9/11, hundreds of boats — tug boats, ferries, party boats, fishing boats, private boats — answered the call to start to ferry people off the island. They drove into piers engulfed with the dark, acrid debris-filled smoke billowing out from the Twin Towers and plucked people off the docks and into safety. I have attached a link for you to watch Boatlift. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18lsxFcDrjo I don’t want to spoil this with too many comments. The video is powerful by itself.
The captains that were a part of this rescue said that the most stirring thing was to see everybody helping everyone else, everyone working in unity. Here there was no concern for class or color, just need. And everyone was in need. One said that it was just ordinary people stepping up to do what they knew they should do, “They showed me that when the American people come together to help one another, they can do it.”
These unorganized, spontaneous heroes rescued nearly 500,000 people in a little under 9 hours! The captain of the Amberjack V said, “I have one theory in life, Never go through life with ‘should haves,’ if you want to do something and it’s the right thing to do, just do it.”
Over the years we have watched the stories of the many first responders who ran into danger and rescued thousands, many at the cost of their own lives. We are very familiar with the stories of Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93 who saved hundreds if not thousands by overtaking the terrorists. We want to never forget!
But one of the greatest takeaways is the fact that all of us have a hero inside of us. All of us can step up (even in ordinary life) to do what is right to do. All of us in our country can unite around conquering evil wherever it can be found.
In watching these things, I cannot help but be moved. And I pray to God that I would have the grace and courage to step up, regardless the price. To my fellow heroes, keep doing the right thing every day, Christopher
“A hero is a man who does what he can.” Romain Rolland