9/11: Help and Heroism in a time of Crisis

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. The following appeared  in the October 2001 issue of NRL News.  I run this column each year in commemoration of 9/11.

 I am always  inspired by the responses. daveandrusko@gmail.com

 “Far from pressing it neatly between the pages of a heavy book, to be retrieved only on special occasions, the day in memory has gained in power and urgency.”
            — Nancy Gibbs, TIME magazine, September 10, 2007.

Those of us of a certain age–maybe 55 and up–will always remember where we were November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Also etched in our memories forever is September 11, 2001, the day in which over 3,000 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks.

On 9/11, I was to go to my graphic designer to put the final touches the September issue of National Right to Life News. I had just come out of a 7/11 convenience story when I heard the news about the first plane crashing into North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Communications were chaotic. It was unrealistic to believe my graphic artist would be able to send the files over the Internet to the printer. Even getting to her office, which was a couple of hours away, could prove impossible.

But for reasons to this day I cannot fully explain or even understand, I was determined that this issue go out that night. A lengthy series of interruptions and complications ensued, but we printed NRL News within a couple of hours of the time we had originally planned to have the edition roll off the presses.

The murderous attack on the World Trade Center took the lives of nearly 3,000 people who were in the Twin Towers, on the airplanes, along with hundreds of firefighters, police, and emergency medical service personnel who gave their lives in a valiant attempt to rescue trapped men, women, and children.


President George W. Bush as he delivered his remarks
at the National Day of Prayer & Remembrance
September 14, 2001, at the National Cathedral.

American history books will forever include stories of the remarkable heroism we’ve been blessed to hear about since that dark day.

Near the top are the rescuers who have worked to the point of exhaustion searching for survivors. Tragically, not many people were found alive.

Ground-zero construction worker Frank Silecchia’s job was to stop earth-moving machines when he spotted bodies in the debris. Three days after the attack, in the smoking rubble of millions of tons of concrete and steel, he found sections of beams that had fallen from the collapsing North Tower which had “landed in an unusual position” (as New York Daily News columnist Rod Dreher wrote): a cross.

“Some people will say it’s velocity or physics that put it there,” Silecchia told Dreher. “To me, it’s an act of God.”

Several other crossbeams landed in the form of crosses. Workers removed the most significant of the crosses from the wreckage, affixed it to a permanent base, and then placed it over a fallen crosswalk over West Street. On October 5, The Rev. Brian Jordan conducted a blessing ceremony attended by 300 people.

Rev. Jordan said the ceremony fell on the Feast of St. Francis, a day when Catholics give thanks “for all of God’s creation.”

“We’ve been hurting for three weeks,” Jordan told the Daily News. “So I also asked God to heal our nation.”