My cousin Stan came over tonight. Stan is a fireman who lost 19 of his co-workers on September 11th. That's 19 just in his specific house.
Tonight Stan came over with a tape. Apparently, next month CBS is showing a video that two French cameramen made on September 11th. They were filming a documentary and just happened to get caught up in the attack on the World Trade Center. What I saw tonight was over two unedited hours of those tapes. I cannot for the life of me fathom why CBS would choose to show this on tv. No amount of editing or soothing over will make it bearable for anyone to see. The only reason a station would show these tapes is for either manipulation of our emotions or plain old ratings. Either way its abhorable. I'm sure they will throw in interviews and heartwearming stories and it will jerk your tears around.
A lot of the tape was shot inside the WTC, right after the first plane hit. It was eerie and unsettling to watch the firemen, milling about, waiting for direction, totally unaware of what fate awaited them. We were staring at faces we knew. My father's friends. My cousin's co-workers. People you would recognize from their stories being told over and over again in the aftermath of the day. You look in their eyes and you are staring into the eyes of a dead man. It was like watching a horror movie, where you want to scream to the actor to get out of the room. I wanted to shout at the men I saw on the tv. Warn them, tell them not to go back up, not to go into Tower 2.
Most of the tape was madness. Smoke. PASS alarms. Shouting. Firemen running up while people were running down. Darkness. Chaos. And the thuds. We kept hearing thuds, thinking it was pieces of the building falling down and my cousin told us no, most of those thuds were the sound of bodies hitting the marquee outside.
So what is the purpose in CBS showing this tape. Even if it is edited to the point of being almost unrecongnizable to me, I still see no point in it. It will only serve to cause distress and despair. They claim it's to show heroism, but I think we all know all about the heroism displayed that day, by everyone who was there, not just firemen. I don't think we need to have the point hammered home to us by displaying the last moments of the lives of so many people in such a raw way. We do not need our emotions manipulated any more than they have been. We do not need to have death and destruction shoved in our face again so we can keep up our patriotic spirit.
I don't know why I watched the whole thing. Maybe because I didn't want to leave my father's side as he looked in the faces of people he spent so much time with, people who are no longer here. Maybe I watched because this was the only time it seemed real to me, that it wasn't being played out with voice overs and graphics. And I think that's what made it so painful. It wasn't just the nightly news anymore. It was finally, ultimately real to me. Seeing that raw footage made the pain and the heartache that had been floating around in my mind since September finally sit down and take hold.
Who needs that? Who needs to have their pain and tears commercialized and put on display? I wish I didn't see it. I'm hoping you decide not to.