On September 11, 2001 shortly after the first tower fell, many retired firefighters rushed into Manhattan to offer their help. They spent about two weeks digging through the rubble. The second week, one particular firefighter took his camera and started filming. He documented what was going through the minds of the firemen who were on duty— those who had been down there when all hell broke loose and were now on duty, searching for their brothers. In spite of the agony and the pain they continued to work.
That fateful morning when the call came in, many were about to call it quits for the day and head on home but instead they jumped on the trucks and rushed to the scene. Before leaving the station some of the men had a bad feeling. Some even made the decision to call home to tell their wives that they loved them in what turned out to be the last goodbyes.
What they saw from a mile away was unlike anything they had ever seen before. They knew that by the end of that day they would have lost many of their friends and buddies. A few of them hugged and kissed each other as they went into the building because they were aware that they would never see each other again.
On their way up, they met people coming down in all types of conditions. People were badly burned, fainting, and even having heart attacks. It was complete chaos, similar to being at war.
In ten seconds 96,000 tons of steel collapsed along with pulverized concrete, furniture, glass, and human beings. Among those who lost their lives were hundreds of men from the NYC Fire Department. Those who survived were filled with despair and helplessness because they felt that they had been unable to do the job they had been there to do.
Those who miraculously were able to walk out of the towers unharmed could not believe their eyes. They were met with hundreds of people crying and mourning the loss of their loved ones, to the point that celebrating the fact that they had survived seemed like a cold and heartless thing to do. So they kept silence because there was nothing to be happy about, only a lot of guilt and remorse for having survived when thousands hadn’t been able to.
Being called heroes doesn’t ease the pain of losing the men that worked side by side with them for years. As one surviving firefighter put it, he would prefer if they took away all the accolades and gave him just one guy back.