Wow. Why did you land? Honestly, I’m calling them
to train. I want to tell you, I love tell my children that I love
them very much and I’m so sorry. [inaudible] today, our fellow
citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack
in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes
or in their offices, secretaries, businessmen and women.
Military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. All right, this is where
we’re going to start least. Yeah, we can do it
right here. Right there. [inaudible] from the morning of September 11th, I was in my office when the first
plane hit tower one. We, um, I called the mayor. I told him I was
coming. I would meet him at tower seven. Tower seven stood right
here on this corner. Our command center was in the
23rd floor of tower seven. So I took off downtown and we actually
came down West Broadway toward Bessie street. We’re gonna make a
right on Vesey. And as we were, there were cops there and
a cop, a Sergeant came up
to the car screaming that, you know, we couldn’t turn on the block
that people were jumping. And I didn’t, I didn’t understand what he said.
And I got out of the vehicle and uh, he said he salutes me and he
said, commissioner, they’re
coming down to jumping. And I looked up and I could see the Bre
coming off of the side of tower one, um, from 95 floors up. What I didn’t realize until that could
breathe out closer to the ground is that it was bodies. I think in that first probably
five minutes I was there, um, I probably watched close to two or three
dozen people come off the building and they were hitting the ground. They were hitting the awnings between
tower two and Terrell one. Um, they sounded like explosions
when they hit the metal. I couldn’t get into New York city. Oh,
all points of entry were closed down. Uh, and my best friend from third
grade, John Gomez calls and he goes, are you watching this to watch from what
I just my son off at nursery school, you know, and I went home, obviously I knew instantly
I said, this is, I, I knew what it was. Terrorism is real. Evil exists in the last century.
100 million humans, souls were lost. And we’ve dealt with in
that a hundred year period. Fascism, communism, a Nazi
is an Imperial, Japan, the killing fields, Cambodia, POL pot and but all told,
based on the history, 100 million souls are killed in the name
of governments in the name of some ism. The ism that we deal
with now is terrorism. Um, about three minutes
before the mayor got here, there was this enormous explosion and
we looked up and the second plane was slamming through the North side
of the building on top of us because I don’t want you
to fit the building. Wow. That’s where I realized we were under
attack and my staff, the body guards, we went behind tower seven. We
waited for the debris to come down. And mayor Giuliani arrived
about three minutes later, looked at the damage here. The mayor
wanted to go down to West street. So we actually walked
down to West street here, went to the side of the buildings
and to a temporary command post. We met with the first deputy commissioner, the chief of department chief of
operations from the fire department. We talked to them for about 10
minutes. And the mayor, he said, okay, I want to, I want to go back to
the other side here. Um, and, and while I was going to set up
a temporary command post here, we came back up the block and my guys
had secured an office in that building there. There was a Merrill Lynch office
there, small Merrill Lynch office. We were going to go in there. The mayor
was going to call the white house. He wanted to speak to the president
about getting air support. Walked into that office. The
mayor sat down at a desk, uh, got on the phone, uh, got
through to the white house. Somebody came on the phone, they
said, the president’s not here, the vice president is going to come with
the phone and talk to you in about a minute and a half after
they said that, um, they came back on the phone
and they said, we have to go. Um, they’re back. You’re
waiting the white house. And we think that the
Pentagon just got hit. And the mayor hung up and
he said, that’s not good. And he told me what they said and all of the sudden the building
started shaking like a freight train was coming through the side of it. Somebody
kicked open the door and yelled, it’s coming down. And uh, that’s when tower two was uploaded. [inaudible] the morning of nine 11, Ashley was in my dorm room and we
watched it on TV. I went to class, I came back, we kind of
saw what was going on. And my father was a fireman
at the time in rescue force. So we knew he was working that day, but I didn’t know exactly
where he was. The morning of, I called my mother and I said, you know,
is that working today? And she said, yeah, he’s, he’s working. I
haven’t heard from him yet, but I’ll call you back later. And no one really knew what to do
because there wasn’t a moment of exasperations. You’re like, Oh, this
is, it’s over. Like we know he’s gone. It was kind of it. He still might walk in the door
every time the door opened, everyone would turn and say, Oh, you
know, expect them to kind of walk in. Um, and again, another day, another day, and then kind of over over
the course of that week, you just be kind of eased
into. He’s not coming back. Like we were pretty sure that he
was lost in the, in the collapse when the building came down. Um,
once that building started to shake, um, we had, it blew out all the windows. There was smoke and gas in all this
stuff. I remember thinking, uh, you know, we were in there, there
was no way out, couldn’t get out. Um, couldn’t go out the way we came in.
It was all blocked off. So you know, and we couldn’t breathe, which
was the worst part of it. Uh, and I was thinking like all this stuff
that I had been through in my career, you know, I did stabbed gun battles, like all this stuff and I’m going to
wind up smothering, did that in this, this office cause we can’t get
out. And all of the sudden, um, a side door open and these two maintenance
guys showed up and they were probably a shock to see the mayor, the police
commissioner, the fire commissioner, and see all of us in that room. There were about a shot to see us as I
was to see that. And uh, I asked him, you have keys to get us
out. We wanted to go West. I wanted to get out the
other side of the building. And they took us out a series of hallways
all the way East until we came out on church street. That’s how we
actually got out of the building. And I remember walking into that lobby
and looking outside and you could not see anything outside. It was pure weight.
It was like somebody took a sheet, put it in front of the window, and I
thought, what is that? Like, what is, what’s out there? What happened?
You know, was it a nuclear blast? Like what was this? And uh, and they have these rotating doors,
these circular rotating doors. And I going through the door, getting
outside and when we got outside, there was no sound, no more sirens, no birds, no car horns, no city sound, no sound period. It was just like somebody stuck
you in a soundproof booth. That’s how condensed this
dust and certain gas was. Um, it took out all sound,
you know, and keep in mind, I was four or five blocks from the towers [inaudible] the men and women or the New
York city police department, the fire department and the port authority
police affected the greatest rescue mission in the history of the
country. They took 20 to 25,000, maybe 30,000 people out of these
buildings in this surrounding area. But then they also evacuated close
to a million people out of Southern Manhattan, added from, from 14th street down to battery park. Close to a million people were evacuated
and they were evacuated in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, New Jersey with the help in
the New Jersey state police, Newark police department, the
Jersey city police department, everybody came together. Um, there was unity like we’ve
haven’t seen in years. Um, there was resilience, um,
that we barely see these days. Um, and it was, uh, it was a feat, I think for the first responders.
Never been replicated prior. And hopefully it’s, it’s
never gonna happen again. I think one of the things
that, that differentiated, um, New York city in what we were doing, what happened on that day
to other municipalities, even state governments around the
country from 1996 to 2000 for four years, Rudy Giuliani created the office of
emergency management in the event of a crisis or an emergency in the
city. And for those four years, four and a half years, we
constantly practiced, um, for crisis, right. Trying to
be proactive, mock drills, tabletop exercises. And I would get a call on Saturday
morning and it said that the mayor just globing and mock drill
tabletop exercise for a, uh, for a biochemical attack in the subway.
At the time I ran Rikers Island, it was the correction commissioner and
over think I run the GS system like has nothing to do with me,
but we had to go anyway. And on September 11th, all that training, everything that we had done for
four and a half years paid off. Managing a crisis is probably one of
the most important elements of something like this that you could imagine
because it ensures that you’re getting everything done. There has to be an assurance that one, you’re getting stuff done too, that people are being held
accountable if they’re not, it was the moment where you just, it just awakened you to what the really
dark side of the human experience can show. And then it shows you the
lightest side, the brightest side, the best out of people. I’ll never forget, I made a big deal out of it at the time. So the days after there
was certain action. I was there and I was reporting from
there and doing TV from there for radio from there and walking up a new Joe’s
looking up at this mass of rubble. But then an amazing thing happened and
new Yorkers are not exactly known for their Southern charm. Charmin
has positive fatality, but Campbell soup sets up an
entire soup kitchen all free. Anybody wants it? Cold
storage, restaurants. They all opened up their
doors. Everything was phrased. The fire department’s first deputy
chief of department chief of operations Chaplin, when we met with them on West street
and we left tower two imploded about 50 minutes later. Every one of the guys were with
dark wind tower tower two imploded. So, uh, you know, we’d just spoken to them. We’ve
just spoken to them. In fact, uh, the chief of operations
told us, he said, look, I don’t think we have to worry about
the towers coming down. He said, what? We’re going to lose everybody in
everything above the impact zone. So in tower one, the impact
zone was around the 95th floor. Tower two is around the 75th floor. Um, so we anticipated that there’s going to
be a lot of death and destruction in the top of the buildings. What nobody anticipated was the jet
fuel was going to create an Inferno. It was going to weaken the beams and
because the beams were still heavy, the structure will be able to hold it. And once they started
to implode and collapse, they just came straight down.
There was nothing stopped. There were pockets and voids underground
where you would hope somebody got into. But you also had to keep in that it was
close to 2000 degrees between 1500 and 2000 degrees under the ground where
these fires were still burning. The fires lasted for
almost three months. Yeah. And we kept the rescue going for
about four weeks, four or five weeks. And then it turned into a
straight recovery case. Um, and the recovery was difficult,
uh, for a number of reasons, but most importantly it
was, you know, digging and, and getting down deep into the voids. Um, but you had to remove a
billion pounds of debris. Right. And those beams, when you remember the beams
that was sticking out of
the ground at the time that held up the towers beams that
the towers were made out of, they were about 1700 pounds
per linear foot. Wow. So if this stuff’s
shifted, if anything moved, if that stuff fell, you know, it was
gonna kill somebody. So you couldn’t have, you couldn’t have guys do on
the ground constantly. Uh, what we started doing at the end,
uh, you know, probably two months in, basically put a bunch of
construction equipment down there, just started moving the debris
and as that debris moved, we had spotters with binoculars. If they saw a bottle or a piece of a
body was some human remains in some capacity, um, then they
shut everything down. They just stopped moving and we
basically went in and found the, or pulled out what they found
out. Keep in mind, we lost the up. We lost 401st responders, 23 cops, 37 port authority cops, 343 firefighters. The reality is, many of them, I would say most of them disintegrate. The first two cops, I think that we did find my
guys out of the 23 we lost. Um, they, you know, when I got
down to the, uh, to ground zero, there were two home Depot buckets
in, in those buckets where the, the remaining pieces of a
Glock and exploded magazine, a set of handcuffs, um, anything that was metal was
there for these two cops. But I mean, think of this for a second.
A Bulletproof vest, a leather belt, boots, uniform. The body itself gone. The only thing that survived was metal. And that was the only remains we had
cause like they were never there. It’s not really a rescue anymore to
recovery. So over the course of the next, I dunno, uh, until may of 2002, it was a recovery operation where we
just were digging to recover anybody who was lost so that we could return
the remains to their families, uh, give them some sort of
closure. We were digging, me and my brother would go down and we
would dig to recover the remains of my father and hopefully, uh, be the ones
that carry ’em out. And that was, that was the intent was if we, if
they found them or someone found them, we wanted to, we wanted
to put the flag over the, over the Stokes basket and
carry him out ourselves. Um, and we dug until may until the till the
floor was a broom swept and there was nothing else to look through. And
unfortunately we didn’t find any remains. We only found his Halligan, whereas
office’s tool, which had an R four, uh, engraved that it for rescue
four and a K D for Kevin Dowdell. So we knew that was his,
we, we recovered that, uh, about two weeks after
the collapse. And uh, that’s unfortunately all we
recovered from the, from the site, the first farm that arrived here,
the first cops that arrived, you know, th the station house since
right around the corner from the museum, those guys went into the
towers. They were 50 floors up, 60 floors up in the tower
tower, two imploded. There was an evacuation
call and this talks, I think this talks a lot about the service
of the people that were here that day when the evacuation call was
given. A lot of people evacuated. But I have to tell you, a lot of
people didn’t. I think a lot of people, first responders, I think a lot of them died because
they knew people were still in those buildings and they wanted them out. Um, and it just shows you the, the
dedication, the perseverance, the courage, that heroism,
um, if was involved, you know, it was the perils inherent with what
you were doing with the death and destruction of what was
going on. Um, it was obvious. So for those men and women
that stayed down here and, and continued on in the
rescue and recovery efforts, that’s heroism that, you know, I
don’t think has ever been replicated. I don’t think will, you know, hopefully
we don’t ever have to see it again. But you have to give the men
and women, uh, in the first, the first responders that were down
there and enormous amount of credit for doing what they did. On the morning of September 12th, there was just one thing in this
country and it was American. You know, I told you earlier this story,
uh, with the president, you know, the president came to ground zero. He, um, he toward ground zero,
you know, if you recall, he stood out there with the
Bullhorn, with the retired firemen, you know, talk to the firefighters
in the, in the first responders. And then we all jumped
in the president’s suburb hadn’t uptown to the Javits center. So
you could see the families of the, uh, of those that were missing. And he was so impressed with the thousands
of people along the route to the jab, et cetera. Big sides. You know, God
bless America. And at some point he says, you know, he’s just so impressed with
all this unity and marriage. Giuliani looked out of the
left. He said, mr president, I hate to be the one to tell you this,
but nobody out there voted for you. He goes, we’re on the West side of
Manhattan. There are no Republicans, but it didn’t make a difference. There were no political parties in
the United States. There, warden, you were Americans, but it took a tragedy. Is that what it really takes for
us to unite? When come together? You would think not. You would
hope not. Um, I’m not sure [inaudible] in prayer
with the people last here. When the workers who work here
for the families in the war with the good people of New York
city and New Jersey and Connecticut. [inaudible] the rest of the world
here. You and the people are not all of us. Thank you for your hard
work. Thank you for making the nation. And may God bless America. [inaudible].