A relatively peaceful Tuesday morning, traffic moving at its usual pace, people rushing to their work, and starting their day at the office….
Out of nowhere, a big passenger plane pops out of the clouds, hurtles at one of the two large iconic towers kissing the New York skyline, and crashes straight into it!
The impact is so massive, it tears a gaping hole in the steel, aluminum, and glass tube structure of the building, igniting 1000s of gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying... starting a massive fire.
The world instantly stops moving.
There’s chaos, fear, and panic everywhere. Nobody knows what just happened.
Meanwhile in the towers, the orders are unclear. The people still alive in the twin towers and in adjacent buildings are advised to stay put and not move or exit the buildings until help arrives.
And then it happens… again. It’s just 18 minutes after the tragedy, and another big passenger plane comes hurtling at the 2nd tower and crashes into it at an even greater speed than the earlier.
It’s now clear… this is an organized attack on American soil.
There’s very real panic and anxiety in the air. The air is reverberating with anguished cries of the victims and helpless onlookers, which can be heard miles away.
Amongst this immense fear and the anguished cries of the victims and onlookers, the first responders are on the scene in minutes of the first crash.
In the ensuing tragedy, the burning inferno of the iconic twin towers of the World Trade Center, the massive swathes of rising smoke, these brave men and women don’t even flinch and get to work.
And, what they achieved within an hour of the attack after which the towers fell down in a pile of massive debris, rubble, and smoke, was nothing short of a miracle!
If not for their selfless efforts that day, at least 25,000 more lives - which is no overstatement - would have been lost on that fateful day, greatly magnifying the tragedy!
This is why, in commemoration of their brave and self-less heroic efforts (these words being in all practicality, a big understatement) and the upcoming 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on WTC, we at ‘Fallen Yet Not Forgotten’ stand solemnly in solidarity with our heroes.
Today, with this article, we are sharing 3 stories of immense heroism and sacrifice that helped save countless lives and will go down in history as examples of selfless courage in the face of grave danger.
It will be a fitting tribute to our heroes of 9/11.
It’s not such a bad idea to keep the tissues at hand, because you will be needing them.
Stories of Courage, Honor, and Sacrifice:
Call of Duty On Retirement Day
For NYPD officer John William Perry, the morning he turned in his retirement papers was Sept. 11, 2001. And, he wasn't about to miss his calling that day.
Appointed to the NYPD in 1993 and assigned to the 40th Precinct, in the Bronx borough of New York, on the morning of September 11, he was off-duty, filing his retirement papers at 1 Police Plaza.
That's when someone told him about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. Instead of leaving his badge, he picked it back up.
He dashed the few blocks to the scene and immediately began assisting other first responders with the rescue operation.
The operation continued for more than an hour until the towers came down in a pile of rubble.
Perry was last seen helping a woman out of the South Tower when it fell just before 10 a.m. that day.
"John was too slow carrying this woman," said Arnold Wachtel, Perry's close friend.
"But knowing John, he would never leave that lady unattended. That was just like him to help people."
John William Perry was the only off-duty NYPD officer who died in the attack.
Perry was posthumously awarded the New York City Police Department's Medal of Honor.
The After-Effects Were Just As Toxic
Special Investigator Diane DiGiacomo was one of the officers regularly profiled on the reality television show "Animal Precinct".
Investigator DiGiacomo and other agents from the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement division were assigned to search for abandoned animals in homes and apartments in restricted area around the World Trade Center site that had been evacuated.
Investigator DiGiacomo spent three months in the immediate area around Ground Zero participating in the operation and other recovery tasks in incredibly toxic conditions.
While, the number of animals she and her team saved is unclear, it takes a special quality to go back in every day and track down lost animals battling incredibly toxic air, rubble, and debris.
She developed a cancer that was a direct result of prolonged exposure to toxic air while conducting search and rescue operations in the area exactly like many first responders who worked at Ground Zero following the attacks.
Diane DiGiacomo passed away a few years ago as the result of this cancer, and is survived by her son, two sisters, and brother.
We salute her incredible courage and her selfless love for animals!
He Saved More than 2700 Lives… which didn’t include his own
Rick Rescorla was responsible for saving more than 2,700 lives, singing songs to keep people calm while they evacuated.
Rick Rescorla was already a hero of the battlefields of Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star and other awards for his exploits as an Army officer and once immortalized on the cover of the book "We Were Soldiers Once… And Young".
Many in the South Tower would hear his calming songs on Sep. 11, where Rescorla was working as head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley.
When American Flight 11 hit the tower next to him, Port Authority ordered Rescorla to keep his employees at their desks, according to San Diego Source.
Rescorla, who had frequently warned the Port Authority and his company about the World Trade Center's security weaknesses, ignored the warning and issued the order to evacuate.
He had made Morgan Stanley employees practice emergency drills for years, and it paid off that day: Just 16 minutes after the first plane hit the opposite tower, more than 2,700 employees and visitors were out when the second plane hit their building.
During the evacuation, Rescorla calmly reassured people, singing "God Bless America" and "Men of Harlech" over a bullhorn as they walked down the stairs.
During the evacuation, Rescorla called his wife, according to The New Yorker:
"Stop crying," he told her. "I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life."
Rescorla was last seen on the 10th floor of the South Tower, heading upward to look for any stragglers. His body was never found.
We stand in silence in awe of his courage, supreme heroism, and willingness to put others’ lives before his own.
The Heroes Who Fell That Day and Died Fighting Cancer Directly Attributed to the Prolonged Exposure to Toxic Air While Conducting Search and Rescue Operations After 9/11
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