Ladder 3, 9/11

Self remembers searching from one bookstore to another:  Kepler’s, Barnes & Noble, Borders, even Safeway, searching for a copy of The New York Times.  Not one single copy remained, anywhere. Sold out, sold out, sold out. The glass entrance to Kepler’s Books was a wall of newspaper front pages. The same photographs, almost:  the planes hitting the towers. She could kick herself for not having a camera.

The following day, self went searching again, and this time she was succesful.  The Sept. 12, 2001 copy of The New York Times is something self has hung on to, for 10 years now.  Every time she leafs through it, she thinks how amazing it is that there were so many detailed and informative articles about a cataclysm not even one day old, even lists of names of the firemen who were known to have perished.  So soon!  All the reporters must have been pulling double-time, no doubt finding in work the only palliative for grief.

Here is self in Bacolod.  It’s just past 6 p.m.  The city is gearing up for the Masskara Festival, an annual extravaganza of song and dance.  Occasionally, self hears fireworks.  Bands play in restaurants, the music spilling over into the street.  She’s had a busy day.  She was up early this morning to hear mass at San Sebastian Cathedral.  There was a male choir singing in exquisite harmony.

She finally made it back to her hotel around 5.  She ordered room service, changed, and switched on the TV.  As luck would have it, she landed on a Discovery Channel documentary of the men of New York Fire Department’s Ladder 3, most of whom perished on 9/11.

There’s the engine the men rode, nicknamed “Big Red.”  It’s just a wreck, crushed by the collapse of the North Tower.  It’s now in the 9/11 museum at Ground Zero.

That day, it was “riding heavy” because several men who were off-shift had come in to volunteer their help.  They hung on, anywhere they could.  Twelve firemen, including Ladder 3 Captain Paddy Brown, perished in the collapse of the North Tower.

Mike Moran was one of six surviving members of Ladder 3.  He is alive only because he had just ended his shift and had returned to his home, just outside Manhattan.  “It was just another Tuesday,” he says, “until 9/11.”

343 firemen lost their lives that day, resulting, Moran says, in the loss of “about a hundred-fifty years of experience.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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