"Something like this makes your hair stand up"*
"You got a guy here. People stuck in the stairway. Open up the goddamn doors!"
My stomach clenched and my heart stopped, briefly. Of course, the towers couldn't be burning again, because they are no longer there. Still, seeing that image jarred the most basic part of my memory from that day. That entire sinking, drowning feeling hit me with full force.
I recovered within seconds and my stomach eased itself back into place before it went into a tailspin all over again, reading the transcripts of the Port Authority radio and phone transmissions from 9/11.
Christine Olender died along with 72 other Windows on the World employees and nearly 100 people who rode the elevators to the 106th floor restaurant for breakfast that morning. Among the diners were stockbrokers who worked in the towers, executives attending a conference and Neil Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority.
"We're getting no direction up here. We're having a smoke condition ... We need direction as to where we need to direct our guests and our employees, as soon as possible," Olender told Officer Steve Maggett, a Port Authority police officer who fielded numerous frantic calls to a police desk based at the World Trade Center.
So much for that French hack who thought that he needed to make up the stories of the victims in that restaurant.
The argument today will be between those who thought it necessary to release these transcripts and those that are horrified. And, even then, there will be sub-arguments between those on either side. Should they have been released to get a better grip on what went wrong? Or was it so we would relive the horror of the victims so we would never forget? Perhaps the New York Times is just looking to be sensational or, and one can never forget the arguments that come flying at you from the far left, perhaps they were released by Karl Rove, in an attempt to get Bush to look sympathetic again?
Most of the families of the Port Authority employees - and the Port Authory itself - were against the tapes being released, and it's obvious why. The pain, still fresh only two years later, would now be compounded by knowing the dread, the fear and the sorrow of their loved ones last minutes.
“I agree with the PA completely. This isn't going to help anybody, and this isn't going to save anybody in the future - this is only going to hurt the people involved in it,” said Sonny Goldstein, whose daughter was killed on 9/11.
So why release this 2,000 page transcript? Does the New York Times think it will accomplish anything drastic in the field of emergency services by making the last words of the victims of a terrorist attack public? I'm skeptical that knowing these words and actions will do any good; mainly because the Port Authority itself is skeptical.
260 hours of disjointed phrases like:
"Yo, I've got dozens of bodies, people just jumping from the top of the building," a male caller said.
"They said another plane just ... flew by and hit Building 2."
"Evacuate the building! Hit the stairwells and get the heck out of here."
"Honey, when the building started coming down, I ran for my life, honey! I survived."
Perhaps these transcripts will jar the emotions of those who have become complacent or those whose mantra has become get over it, already. I'm not sure how I feel about these tapes but, then again, it's not father or daughter whose voices are heard on the tapes. I just observe. I just feel the same exact way I did on that Tuesday morning almost two years ago.
Nothing can bring these people back, but nothing can make us forget. I think we all need a little push into the frame of that day once in a while.
*From transcript here