9/11 Hero Stories; Garden of Reflection Bucks County, PA
Every year I post something about the September 11, 2001 attacks, and so I won't repeat myself this year I decided to link to a few unusual stories of heroism some people may or may not know. That day changed the world. There was life before 9/11 and life after 9/11, and many things were never the same again.
This article talks about the unrecognized heroism of a young man, Salman Hamdani, who was found with his medical kit at Ground Zero in NY five months after the attacks.
Hamdani’s name was left off the NYPD’s official 9/11 memorial, and there’s no mention of him in the list of 441 first responders on the National September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. Instead, his name is etched with others on the panels surrounding the spot where the South Tower originally stood.
His mother didn’t find this out until 2009, when she was mailed the official National Memorial package. “It was a shock.”
This story talks about the last survivor found at Ground Zero, and the hero is a dog this time. He literally "sniffed" her out and saved her life.
In the chaotic aftermath of 9/11, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in which two planes hit and destroyed New York's iconic Twin Towers, more than 300 dogs were used in the city's rescue and recovery operation. One of these dogs was the one that led rescuers to Guzman-McMillan's side.
"Several months [after September 11], they told me that a dog had actually seen a firefighter jacket in the rubble," Guzman-McMillan said. "The dog was trained to find scent, that's how I was found."
Guzman-McMillan eventually got to meet her rescuers, but she never met the dog who had saved her life.
"It's pretty amazing to know that dogs can be trained in that way to help people, in general," she said. "I didn't know dogs could be that smart. It means a lot to me, and I thank God for that, for giving animals the ability to do that."
This next piece talks about the personal memories of 9/11 from a man who was in one of the twin towers that day, John Pyndus. Though he doesn't call himself a hero, many have dubbed him one.
When the second plane struck tower two, his tower, Pyndus said his immediate reaction was to get himself and his fellow employees who still remained following the strike on the first tower out of the building. When he finally reached the stairwell it was oddly empty, an early indication that those trapped on higher floors would not make it out.
Still, Pyndus was not only able to guide those left behind to the only available exit, but also help three people trapped by lifting a wall that had fallen on top of them.
“When you’re in something like that, you don’t, I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel grief or sorry for myself. From that point you kind of go automatic, you tell yourself you’ve got to get your people out of here,” he said at his Rumson home, recounting the tale as if it were a war story, stripped of all the glory and pride.
“We tried to get out but we couldn’t make it down the hallway, it was too hot. There were flames dripping out of the ceiling, dripping. I changed from having this cock-sure attitude that I could do this — I was going to do this — to wondering how we were going to get out. I thought if we don’t move, we’re going to die.”
And finally, here in Bucks County, PA 17 heroes lost their lives that day, 15 men and 2 women. There were others from this area who were there that day and survived. We're only an hour from Manhattan and many commute to work there every day. We have our own memorial dedicated to 9/11 called The Garden of Reflection.
Under a blistering morning sun, more than 200 people gathered in a field in Lower Makefield to break ground for "The Garden of Reflection." When completed, possibly by next fall, it would be the largest, most ambitious 9/11 memorial in the Philadelphia area.
Lower Makefield Township is donating the land for the memorial, as well as funds for maintenance and constructing an access road. But the bulk of the project's cost - $580,000 - will be raised privately, according to Grace Godshalk, a township supervisor.
If you have the time and you do a simple search for heroes of 9/11, you'll come up with many more examples of how instinct takes over in times of crisis and how hard humans will struggle to survive. And in almost all of these cases, these were not people who were trained in the military, or trained to deal with something as catastrophic as the 9/11 attacks. They just did what they had to do.
But that's not all. There are still heroes of 9/11 fighting to make the world safer to this very day. The widow of United flight 175 pilot, Ellen Saracini, who also lives here in Bucks County, has been doing this for over a decade.
Fitzpatrick was joined by Ellen Saracini, widow of 9/11 United Flight 175 pilot Victor Saracini, a Bucks County resident who is a passionate and a thoughtful advocate for safety after the 9/11 attacks.
On September 11, 2011 my two young daughters and I lost the love of our lives – their father and my husband.
There are 2,973 other similar stories around the country of lost love ones on that infamous day in our nations’ history. It is obvious with the advent of knives being reintroduced to carry-on luggage, budget cuts in federal law enforcement on airplanes, and now the tragic events of Boston – that we cannot become complacent to the point of allowing another 9/11 to happen again.”