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Sunday, September 11, 2011 | www.NewBritainHerald.com | $1.75

AN EDITION OF THE

SUNDAY

HERALD PRESS

We Remember 9/11/01

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2 | Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Herald Press

9/11 A DECADE LATER

Locals share their recollections of September 11, 2001 In face of hardship, ever prepared

By LISA BACKUS and SUSAN CORICA STAFF WRITERS

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, still resonate today, largely because the images from that day have proven so indelible that they continue to startle. A vast majority of Americans know where they were and what they were doing when the events unfolded. It’s become a shared experience, and what follows are the accounts of people in Central Connecticut who discuss how 9/11 affected them and what they’ve learned.

Chester Plawski’s flight was supposed to land in Poland on Sept. 11, 2001. That morning his wife Teresa had turned on the TV at their New Britain home and saw the second plane strike the World Trade Center. She called family members in Poland and was frightened to hear her husband hadn’t arrived. “They said they went to the airport and waited but he didn’t come. I said. ‘Oh my God what happened?’” she recalled.

Chester Plawski, left, and his wife, Teresa.

It turned out his flight had been delayed for four hours at Kennedy Airport in New York the night before, so he arrived late but safe. Plawski stayed in Poland for two weeks before returning to New Britain. The Plawskis, who had survived many hardships during World War II, said they never expected anything like the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But that day didn’t change their feeling of safety in the U.S. Teresa Plawski said she doesn’t mind the enhanced airport security measures. “I know it’s not pleasant but you have to do it to protect people.” Most Americans have never really experienced hardship, they said. Chester Plawski said people aren’t prepared even for a serious natural disaster that could leave them without power and supplies for days or weeks. “They have no food at home, they have no water, they have no place to cook. People always say bad things happen but never to them. But we could live approximately one month in this house and not even go to the store,” he said.

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Courtney Perchiano

Mike Orazzi | Staff

Jamie Perchiano

Mike Orazzi | Staff

A day that turned extraordinary

A personal connection

For Courtney Perchiano, Sept. 11, 2001, started as an ordinary day at Bristol Central High School. “I remember that I was in Spanish class and they made an announcement that the (first) plane crash had happened. They said that anybody who has parents or family members who fly for business or whatever, if they want to make phone calls they can,” she said. “It was just crazy,” she recalled. “I called my mom, because my father was a photographer and he normally flies a lot. Thank God he wasn’t on any plane.” Perchiano never imagined that in a few years she would be married to a man who witnessed firsthand the planes striking the World Trade Center. Her husband Jamie Perchiano saw the destruction from Staten Island. His best friend was a firefighter who was killed when the towers fell. Courtney Perchiano said she and her husband have attended 9/11 ceremonies on Staten Island and lately they have held their own small ceremony in Bristol where they light candles and release white balloons. He has taken her to New York to visit Ground Zero and other sites associated with the tragedy. It’s strange being there, she said. “It was all so horrible, so sad.”

For Jamie Perchiano, Sept. 11 wasn’t just a shocking story he saw on the news, it was a personal tragedy. A native New Yorker, he was on the Staten Island ferry that morning going to meet friends who worked at the World Trade Center. The ferry was halfway to Manhattan when the first plane hit. “Next thing you know they stopped the ferry right by the Statue of Liberty, then they turned us around and we had to go back to Staten Island,” he said. “Everyone was freaking out. I was on my phone trying to call people. First there was a busy signal, then it went to voice mail, then there was just nothing.” He knew several people who were killed that day but chief among them was his best friend, Robert Cordice, who had recently become a firefighter stationed at Squad 1 in Brooklyn. “He was only 24. He was like a brother to me,”he said.“It’s incredible that this had to happen to innocent people, just going to work to make a living for their families. It took a long time for me to recover from it.” He has attended memorials at a Staten Island site known as Angels’ Circle and hopes to bring his young sons there someday when they’re older. “I’ve been changed permanently by it, but you have to move on and think in positive ways, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” he said.

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The Herald Press in New York who always felt the towers were a target, ever since the terrorist bombing happened there in 1993. However, he was never afraid of going there. “Driving an armored truck is a dangerous job anyway,” he said. “I’m always cautious in New York anyway. I feel we’re still getting threatened by al-Qaeda, but any place could be a target.”

Eric Steiner

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 3

WE REMEMBER the headline ticker, she said. Finally at 1 p.m.,the four women were able to get on one of the first trains heading out of the city. No one asked them for tickets. By 4 p.m. they got off in Naugatuck and were able to make phone calls to let people know they were OK. That’s when they realized the full extent of what had happened. Ward said her feelings about going to New York haven’t changed; she and her social group still go there several times a year. She also takes today’s heightened security measures in stride. “If I’m on a plane I want to be safe. If they have to take an extra half hour of my day to ensure that, I don’t really have a problem with it,” she said.

to better understand opposing views. “It was propaganda,” she said. “The American government demonized the muslims, and Osama (bin Laden) demonized Americans to his people. We have to be able to talk. People have to understand each other to stop this from happening again.”

Mike Orazzi | Staff

Robert Graveline

To find the way, ‘just look up’ When Eric Steiner saw the World Trade Center crumble on TV 10 years ago, he felt a shock of recognition. He knew the layout of the towers because he had been delivering cash to ATMs there just a year before. “I couldn’t possibly imagine them coming down. I was hoping the people we used to deal with there were OK. I knew it would take at least 10 minutes just to get out of there,” he said. Steiner had spent much of 2000 working for an armored car company, driving a large territory that included New York City. “We used to do JFK and LaGuardiaairports,Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, the bus stations, so I got to see all the famous spots in New York,” he recalled. The first time he and his crew drove to the towers, they stopped to ask directions. “People said, ‘Just look up, you’ll find it.’ We looked up, there they were — the two tallest buildings in New York. We felt so stupid,” he said. He would usually arrive at the towers around noon, when thousands of people were walking about during lunch. He would carry the ATM cartridges loaded with cash to the ground floor reception area to check in with security.Then someone from the bank would come out to accompany him to the ATM. Steiner, a Bristol resident, said he knew someone who worked

Rob Heyl | Staff

‘We did not fold’

Jessica Lewis

Rob Heyl | Staff

A lesson on mortality Pat Ward.

Mike Orazzi | Staff

Social outing takes ominous turn Pat Ward of Bristol had just arrived at Grand Central Station for a day in New York City with her sister and two friends when the first plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower. They were on their way to Battery Park, which is near the WTC complex. “We were going to see the Statue of Liberty, perhaps have lunch at Windows on the World, but none of that came to be,” Ward recalled. They were told they couldn’t go on the subway because there had been “an incident.” So they watched on a TV in a store as the second plane hit the South Tower. “We decided we better leave New York. We bought our tickets, then they told us the trains weren’t running. So we just walked around outside, because all the buildings were evacuated by then and the stores closed. There was a sea of people and policemen on horses.” No one really knew what was going on, people were standing outside the NBC building reading

Fran Poeta

Rob Heyl | Staff

Turn toward one another, not away Fran Poeta was watching “Good Morning, America” in a Connecticut hospital while recovering from surgery when the screen flashed with breaking news that a plane had struck one of the Twin Towers in New York City. “I thought to myself, that didn’t look like an accident,” the 61-year-old New Britain resident said. In the following hours, the New Britain resident remembers feeling proud of the firefighters who tried to rescue others and shocked at the amount of smoke and debris. But what she said lingered was the feeling that people need

Jessica Lewis was at work at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan when a co-worker pointed out that the World Trade Center was smoking. She and her boyfriend were living in the area at the time. He asked her to marry him two weeks after the attacks. “I think people realized we aren’t going to be here forever,” she said. When the second plane hit, it occurred to her that it wasn’t an accident. “I looked out the window and could see only one tower there,” the 46-year-old said. “When the news came of the Pentagon, it was like a nuclear holocaust,” said Lewis, who since moved to New Britain. “I was waiting to be blown up.” The day changed the country’s view on terrorism. Her father, who worked for American Airlines in the 1970s, once thought “homeland security” meant going through a purse at the airport. “Now people are being wanded and taking off their shoes,” she said, adding that she’s had sporadic nightmares about the attacks over the years. A few months ago her thoughts were drawn back to that day when she saw a plane flying over the East Hartford skyline. “It really does make you realize you aren’t going to live forever,” she said.

Robert Graveline wrote his first poem in 1967 as a way of addressing his frustration at work as a computer programmer. It was only natural, said the 79-year-old Rocky Hill resident, that he pen his feelings after the World Trade Center attacks. “I felt really bad about the people dying and I was also angry that someone could do this to us,” he said. The result was “September Eleven Two Thousand One,” a poem that Graveline will read during Rocky Hill’s 9/11 memorial service today at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Garden on Old Main Street. The piece was also read into the Congressional Record in 2002 after being submitted by U.S. Rep. John Larson. Graveline recalls he was in his garage on 9/11 when a Rocky Hill town highway crew called out to him to ask if he heard what happened. He wrote the poem about a month later after learning that the terrorists had been taking flying lessons and no one had noticed. In the piece, he gives credit to those who lost their lives trying to save others and points out that the country “just bent, we did not fold.” He concludes that we “bonded with each other” in the aftermath. “I think we owe a debt of gratitude to those who put their life on the line,” Graveline said. “I think we take it for granted.”


9/11LOCAL A DECADE LATER

4 | Sunday, September 11, 2011 the Marines staging the invasion of Iraq, one of his two tours of duty in that country. “I think it’s better that Americans are getting attacked while wearing a flak jacket than while driving on (Interstate) 91 and getting hit by a bomb,�he said. Last year he painted a flag on a front window of his home with the words “Never Forget� to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.This year he expects to do the same. “I think a lot of people get complacent and Rob Heyl | Staff don’t really appreciate the sacrifice Dan Goodkofsky that people are making every day,� Against complacency he said. “Ithinkwe’redoingtherightthing,� Dan Goodkofsky had just finished he said of the country’s decision to officer training in Quantico, Va., remain in Iraq and Afghanistan. as a Marine Corps cadet when he “That’s where it all started.� and his fellow students learned that the World Trade Center had been attacked. “We just started watching what was going on in New York and then we received a report that there was smoke coming from the capital,� the 34-year-old New Britain firefighter said. “They closed the base immediately and we spent the day setting up security check points. People weren’t sure if we were a target. It seemed like it was beginning of some sort of war.� Rob Heyl | Staff Two years later he would be among Lt. Pat Walsh.

Using paint to honor fallen After nearly two decades of painting firefighters, it was only natural that New Britain fire Capt. Paul Walsh would memorialize his friends in Squad 41 in the South Bronx, nearly all of whom were killed while working to rescue others from the World Trade Center. “It’s terrible enough to lose one firefighter but to lose entire companies in one day, that leaves a mark,� said the 26-year veteran of the New Britain department. Walsh was at a hardware store when he received the first text messages that the WTC had been hit by a plane. It would take him another couple of hours to contact his brother Jay, a lieutenant with the New York Fire Department who wasn’t on duty that day. In the days that followed, the lieutenant updated his brother on the dead and missing. Walsh knew many of the men who died through his brother. He often hung out at Squad 41. One of his close friends, Bobby Hamilton, is depicted in a painting he did for the Bronx station and the families of those who died. In all, 343 New York firefighters died that day. He attended as many of the funerals as he could. Walsh’s work is displayed at the

The Herald Press Connecticut Firefighter’s Museum in South Windsor and in the Fire Museum run by the Connecticut Firemen’s Historical Society in Manchester. “The undertaking of what the New York Fire Department did that day was unbelievable,�Walsh said. “It was the biggest rescue ever made.�

Lou Caouette

A hunch based on experience When Lou Caouette heard on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, he was shocked but not surprised. At first it was reported that it was a light plane, then later broadcasters said it was a jet, he recalled. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when they said that another plane had hit the other tower, I knew we

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were under attack.� “It was bad enough when the Twin Towers were being attacked but when I heard that the Pentagon was under attack I said, ‘That’s it, we’re at war.’ It was like another Pearl Harbor,� he said. Ever since the 1993 truck bombing at the towers, Caouette said he suspected terrorists would attack there again, though he didn’t expect they would use hijacked planes. A Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, Caouette said he had been concerned about terrorism before that, starting with the bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and in 2000 of the naval destroyer the USS Cole in Yemen. “They were going after American targets, so I wasn’t really shocked about what happened on 9/11. I mean it was shocking to watch what was going on, especially when the people jumped from the towers, that was horrible, and when the towers fell. I never thought they would fall,� said Caouette, a Bristol resident. He worries more attacks may be coming. “One thing I can’t understand is why it took so long to get (Osama) bin Laden, but they got him and I was happy,� he said.

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The Herald Press

Nancy Cosgrove

WE REMEMBER

Charles Cosgrove

‘All those firemen!’

First shock, then perspective

At Manchester Memorial Hospital on Sept. 11, 2001, Nancy Cosgrove went down to the cafeteria with some co-workers. “We came back and the girl in the next office said, ‘Something’s happened in New York City.’” They turned on a TV and watched as the second plane struck the World Trade Center. “I sat there completely stunned. What I really remember is watching the firemen go up into the towers, then watching those towers collapse. I said right out loud, ‘Oh my God, all those firemen!’” Her immediate concern was for her son, Bobby Sanville, who had just started as a freshman at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, which she worried was close enough to New York City that it might be targeted. “I couldn’t get in touch with him. No one knew what was happening and I just wanted him home,” she said. The Southington resident also had to alert her husband Charles to contact his daughter in Washington, D.C. to make sure she was OK. Adding to Cosgrove’s concern, at the hospital where she worked as a respiratory therapist/sleep technologist the staff was put on alert and not allowed to leave. Later, she made a point of getting a cell phone so she could always be in touch with family members. “Sept. 11 changed my sense of safety,” she said. “I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I appreciate the emergency workers who put themselves at risk on a daily basis.”

Driving to work in New Haven from Southington, Charles Cosgrove got a panicked call from his wife Nancy on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. “She said, ‘Do you know what flight Kellie is on going to Europe?’” Cosgrove’s daughter was supposed to leave that day on a flight from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. to Paris for her job as a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission. “I said, ‘No, why are you asking?’ Nancy said we’ve been attacked by terrorists,” he said. “I knew nothing about what was going on.” He soon learned Dulles was where American Airlines Flight 77 departed, before being hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. Cosgrove had spoken to his daughter the night before. “She does a lot of international travel, so it never dawned on me to ask what her flight number was,” he said. Finally he was able to learn that his daughter’s flight was cancelled and he reached her at her Washington office. “Her office was locked down. For a couple of hours not being able to get in touch with her, we were holding our breath, it was so terrifying.” Looking back, Cosgrove said he appreciated the feeling of people coming together after the tragedy. “I believe there are elements of that still with us today. I think people are more in tune with not getting mad over trivial things,” he said. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day, he said. “So if life gets to be a bit of a struggle you can think about those people that are never coming home again, and try to keep a perspective on things.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 5


9/11LOCAL A DECADE LATER

6 | Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tony Sileo

A wake-up call that went unheeded

The night before the terrorist attacks, Tony Sileo and his wife Jennie flew home from his Army reunion in St. Louis. They had decided not to take a side trip to Branson, Mo., with friend from the reunion. Later they heard that their friends ended up stuck in Missouri for several days when all flights were grounded. They couldn’t get hotel rooms anywhere, Sileo said. “Buses and trains were out of the question then. All the car rentals were gone. Some of them ended up buying used cars to get home.� As for the Sileos, a Bristol couple, they had a nice flight into Bradley Airport and the next morning they were too busy straightening up after their trip to pay attention to the news. Then their daughter told

them to turn on the TV. “As we looked the second plane crashed,� he said. “After that we were glued to the TV.� Much later he learned that one of his old Army buddies lost his daughter and son-in-law, who were passengers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. After that the formerly jovial man cut off all social ties and moved with his wife to a town where no one knew them, he said. Sileo believes the 1993 World Trade Center bombing should have been a wakeup call for the U.S. government about the terrorism threat. Like Pearl Harbor, he said, Sept. 11 should never have happened. “The world has changed for the worst since then,� he said, noting that national security has become a bit of an obsession for him.

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The Herald Press Sileo also said he doesn’t understand the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They have no clear objectives, unlike when he fought with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II, he said.

Matt Malley

Too many knee-jerk reactions

Jill and Gary Klemyk

Honeymoon turns chaotic Heading to Aruba for their honeymoon was the last carefree flight Gary and Jill Klemyk would experience. “We had two fun days there,� said Gary. Then as he was checking his e-mail on the hotel computer, he saw a short news item about an airplane crash at the World Trade Center. “Are you Americans?� a hotel housekeeper asked. “You need to go in the conference room.� “There must have been 60 Americans already in there, just glued to the TVs,�he said.They watched as the second plane hit. “That’s when it got really quiet.� WithU.S.flightshalted,Americans were left stranded, running out of money. Telephones and ATMS weren’t working. Jill said the hotels were opening their conference rooms and putting out food for people. The Klemyks, of Bristol, were scheduled to leave Sept. 16. “We were on the first flight that left for the states,�Jill said. Even then there were problems. Airport security was chaotic, she said. “They were saying no electronics, so people were throwing cameras and camcorders in the garbage.� The plane took a roundabout route to avoid Caribbean countries that would no longer allow flyovers for U.S. flights. At Bradley Airport, the plane was diverted to a remote airfield. “At first they wouldn’t let anybody off, they brought dogs on to sniff the cargo area.Then we got on buses and they checked us physically as we got back to the airport,�Gary said. The journey that should have lasted five hours took 14. “That’s when it really started to set in. Life has changed for us,�he said.

The lumber delivery man came into the carpentry shop where Matt Malley was working and said, “Can you believe what they’re doing in New York?� “We didn’t have the radio or anything going, we had no clue. Then he began to explain it to us,� Malley said. The shock of the towers crumbling was compounded for Malley by the loss of one of his favorite places — Windows on the World, the famed restaurant atop the North Tower. He reminisced about taking his extended family there soon after it opened back in 1976 and later taking members of the Plymouth Historical Society there. “It was just phenomenal. The view was very nice, the staff was literally from all over the world, and the wine cellar was one of the best in New York,� he said. “They had a jacket requirement, so if you didn’t have a jacket they produced one for you that was royal blue with the Windows on the World logo on it.� His grandmother saved the menu from the family trip. Malley enjoys looking over it, pointing out the gourmet dishes available at 1970s prices. Not everyone enjoyed the tower’s noticeable sway so high up, but those things never bothered him. “I have very high confidence in engineering,� he said. Malley recognizes Sept. 11’s aftermath as more serious than the loss of a restaurant. “I think about the things we used to be able to do before 9/11 that today could land you in jail. Like in high school I made a cannon in metal shop,� said the Bristol resident. “We panicked and made kneejerk reactions after 9/11,� he said. “Eventually some of those reactions are going to have to be looked at and revised.�


The Herald Press

Ed Luczkow

Mike Orazzi | Staff

A license plate grabs attention The license plate on Ed Luczkow’s car is “0911.” On Sept. 11 he was taking a morning break at his factory job when a passing driver stopped to comment. “He said, ‘Hang onto that plate because that date will be remembered forever, like Dec. 7,” Luczkow said, recalling how he first heard about the terrorist attacks. “Shortly thereafter we were all called into a meeting and they said anybody that wants can go home,” he said. “I don’t think anybody did. We were in denial about how bad it was at first.” An EMT, Luczkow went on to become chairperson/coordinator of Bristol’s Local Emergency Planning Committee for several years. Emergency planning became a top priority, so early in 2002 he got approval to update the city’s emergency radio system at a cost of $4.5 million. “It was a huge upgrade, but it was long overdue,” he said. “Today Bristol has the best radio system in the state of Connecticut, bar none.” As a licensed private pilot, Luczkow is acutely aware of how the Sept. 11 attacks affected aviation.It used to be the government was more tolerant if a small aircraft accidentally flew into a temporarily restricted space, he said. “Today, you could be shot down or rammed, or have someone fly jet exhaust right into your face to get you get out of there immediately.” The heightened security that awaits people before boarding commercial flights is necessary, he believes.“Your safety is worth it.These terrorists are people that want to do us harm.”

Scott MacDonald

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 7

WE REMEMBER

Rob Heyl | Staff

Outrage followed by apathy The terrorist attacks arrived “on a bright, beautiful morning like a screeching and flaming destroyer-ship emerging out of the waters of relative stability and calm,” Scott MacDonald wrote about Sept. 11. He was a freshman in

English class at Bristol Central High School that day when the news came over the intercom. As the day progressed, teachers set up televisions so students and staff could watch the disaster unfold. People had different emotions and reactions, he recalled.“I saw some sad students bury their heads to hide their tears, while other students laughed at the falling bodies as though they were watching a bad action movie.” MacDonald said he was reminded that day “of the importance of keeping family and friends close by,of understanding that the views of a group of extremists does not reflect the values of an entire population.” Now a student at Central Connecticut State University,he said Sept. 11 was what really got him interested in following the news and politics,but many of his peers don’t share that interest. “For my generation 9/11 was by far the most horrifying event we’ve seen, but if I were to ask people about it, some would have a lot to say but the majority would just say it’s a tragedy and that’s about it.”

WE WILL NEVER FORGET Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9-11 On September 11, 2001, 3,388 people died as a result of terrorist attacks. On the tenth anniversary of that tragedy, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, we are honoring each of them by lighting 3,388 luminaries on the grounds of our Newington Memorial Funeral Home, 20 Bonair Ave., Newington. You

Gordon Chabot

Mike Orazzi | Staff

Terryville’s link toTheTowers Gordon Chabot of Southington was at home watching “Imus in the Morning” on TV. He recalled that when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center the program was suspended and one of the cameramen in the New York studio trained the camera out the window at the towers nearby. “They were quite close and I watched as the second tower was hit. You could see the plane swooping in and — Bang! — it hit,” he said. “I was thinking we got some trouble.” Chabot is a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps who was in pilot training in 1945 when Japan surrendered.He remembers Pearl Harbor but wasn’t worried that the terrorist attacks were a repeat of that event. He was moved by the collapse of the World Trade Center to create a poster showing an obscure link between the landmark financial/ commercial complex in lower Manhattan and the little Lock Museum of America, located in Terryville. A retired artist, Chabot enlarged a photo of the towers taken by a friend looking north from the top of a building in Manhattan’s Battery Park City.Then he positioned next to it a smaller photo of the Lock Museum building. The museum’s curator, Bristol resident Thomas Hennessy, years ago perfected the master key system for all the locks in the World Trade Center, according to Chabot, who said he might consider presenting the poster to the Lock Museum.

are invited to stop by from 6: 30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and reflect, remember and honor all who died on that day and those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Anytime during these two hours, drive by, walk by, or spend some time here to pay tribute in your own personal way. Newington Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Newington Volunteer Firefighters will be present and are supporting our family and staff to make this evening so special. In case of rain, this tribute will not take place. We hope you will join us,

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9/11LOCAL A DECADE LATER

8 | Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Herald Press

Area officer tasked with identifying cars from the rubble By LISA BACKUS STAFF WRITER

On the morning of the New York City mayoral primary on Sept. 11, 2001, city Detective Brendan Mulvey had been assigned to election duty at a Queens public school. Within hours he was standing on the roof watching the World Trade Center burn and waiting for instructions on what to do next. “My wife was also a New York City officer and she jokingly said, ‘I’ll see you in about three months,’” said the 49-year-old Mulvey, who has since become a Bristol police officer, a position he’s held for eight years. “She was pretty accurate.” As part of the NYPD’s Auto Crime Unit, Mulvey was assigned to the Staten Island dump where he would spend roughly a year identifying 1,600 burned and mangled vehicles that had been parked around and in the garage at the World Trade Center when the buildings came down. During his first night on the detail, he recalls debating with other detectives about the model and make of a chunk of twisted steel that had been brought in for identification. “I thought it was a Ford, one of the other guys said no, it was a Lexus,” he said. “It turned out that it was a Ford ambulance that had been melded to a Lexus.” The emergency vehicles were easily recognizable by their color and markings. Some fire trucks bore names,handwritten by friends and co-workers, of the firefighters who set out that morning to rescue thousands but never made it out. In most cases, “I never knew if they

lived or died,” Mulvey said. “I figured they all just didn’t make it.” As part of his job he’d venture into the heavily damaged parking garage at the World Trade Center to inspect vehicles trapped inside. Some floors of the structure were intact, with the cars in pristine condition and simply covered in dust. Other floors had been crushed, taking vehicles and portions of concrete and twisted metal downward to land on top of the slabs below. Often the openings left behind were filled with ash — the combined remnants of material that included desks,work stations,walls, doors and office equipment that had once filled the Twin Towers. The ash was seven stories high in some places, he said. He lost friends that day, including his wife’s former partner, and went to countless funerals in the weeks that followed. Each day, however, he noticed that people from around the country, and the world, had pulled together to contend with the aftermath of the Mike Orazzi | Staff attacks. NYPD detective Brendan Mulvey, now a Bristol police officer, in front of a line of mangled vehicles he would later German and Japanese police help to identify. The vehicles were parked in the area of the World Trade Center when Tower One and Two came officers would be directing traffic down on 9/11. on street corners, and members of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army stayed for months offering food and bedding to the workers and surviving family members. “Probably for about six months after it occurred the only road in was lined with thousands and We’re familiar faces around town - you’ve seen thousands of people who were us at the Fair, at charity events, on a baseball standing there thanking you,” he field coaching and school functions, so you recalls. “It was just incredible. I know we’ll be here to repair or maintain your wish we could see more of that today.” vehicle for years to come. And, you want to

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The Herald Press

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 9

WE REMEMBER

In days after 9/11, Plainville officers took on a solemn task

One man’s fight for survival

By LISA BACKUS

Newington native, struggled to save lives and barely escaped with his own

STAFF WRITER

By LISA BACKUS

Driving clergy to Ground Zero to give last right’s

STAFF WRITER

It was a task that police Sgt. Charles Smedick and other members of the Plainville Police Department took on willingly in the days that followed the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Each day for several weeks, Smedick and his fellow officers took turns escorting clergy to Ground Zero to give the last rites to human remains discovered as emergency workers painstakingly sifted through the rubble. Sometimes the remains were small bits of bone or a piece of scalp. On at least one occasion Smedick and another Plainville officer wound up as part of a bucket brigade looking for any trace of a Port Authority police officer after a portion of his gun was found on a pile. “They were hoping his body was nearby but they never found anything,” Smedick said. “We were wearing our full uniform because of the job we were assigned to do. We came back covered in dust that day.” Smedick, a member of the Plainville force for nearly 30 years, said he came to realize that most

Rob Heyl | Staff

Sgt. Charles Smedick of the Plainville Police Department.

people didn’t have an accurate perception of what the site looked like. He expected large chunks of building material, much like what might be found following a bomb blast, but what he saw were steel beams still glowing from the flames with just about everything else pulverized into dust. “It was a sobering experience,” Smedick said. “For most officers it probably will be the one thing in their career that will stand out the most.”

A decade ago New York City firefighter Tim Brown survived the howling winds and roar of concrete and steel collapsing as the World Trade Center crashed to the ground around him. Brown, a 49-year-old Newington native and former New Britain firefighter, was with the NYFD’s Office of Emergency Management the day the city erupted into chaos as two planes ripped into the Twin Towers. As Brown sprinted from tower to tower trying to help others and organize the emergency response, he saw an elevator pit ablaze from jet fuel. The people inside were “cooking” as he tried to secure fire extinguishers to put out the blaze, he later told a WTC task force.And he would later hear the roar.Brown found himself in the area of the WTC Marriot when the first tower started to collapse and hung on to a column. He and the

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other emergency responders knew what the ominous sound meant — and they all understood that the pile of rubble that followed would likely be their final resting place. “I was trying to live,” he said. “At that moment I guessed the winds were about 75 miles per hour ... a scientist did a study and determined it was closer to 185 miles per hour. I was holding on to the column trying not to get blown out into the street because I knew the falling steel would have killed me. I really did think I was done.” It was unfair, he thought to himself, that he’d never get a chance to hold his brother one more time, Brown said.“In the end, it’s the ones you love that you’re thinking about. I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to hold his brother for the past 10 years.” He lost 93 friends and co-workers that day. The story of his grief and hope,playedoutovernineyears,isfeatured in the documentary “Rebirth,”

Newington native and former New Britain firefighter Tim Brown.

which opened in late August. He retired from the NYFD in 2004 after a short stint with the federal government working on homeland security matters. He said he was thrust into an advocacy role about three years ago when families of 9/11 victims asked that he become involved in the fight against holding the trials of five suspected organizers of the terrorist attacks in Manhattan. “I see it as my duty to defend the honor and the sanctity of that place where something this awful happened,” he said. “Eleven hundred families never got any DNA back, for them that’s the burial ground for their loved ones. For people to play around with it, that’s offensive.”

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10 | Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11LOCAL A DECADE LATER

The Herald Press

Local Muslim moved to make a change in perception

Area doctor creates Muslim Coalition of Connecticut to teach Americans about Islam and young Muslims about American culture By LISA BACKUS STAFF WRITER

As a cardiologist tending to a man in his 40s who was swiftly dying of a degenerative heart condition, Dr. Reza Mansoor admits he struggled on 9/11 to contend with the immediacy of his patient’s condition and the shock that was spreading across the country. He also says that within hours of the terrorist attacks he heard derogatory comments about his Muslim faith, such as “We should blow up all the mosques” and “Blow up Mecca.” “It was hurtful,” he said. “These are spiritual sites for us. A crazy lunatic used our religion. These were terrorists who used religion to carry out their awful deed.” Mansoor, a West Hartford resident, was instrumental in founding the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut in 2004 and is now on the board of the organization and on the board

of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, which operates a mosque in Berlin. For the past decade he has been involved in helping others understand his religion and in showing Muslim teenagers that they can have

They also speak at churches and synagogues. Most Americans have misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, he explained. “There is nothing in our Islamic-American identity that doesn’t comply with American law,” Mansoor said. “We wanted to show people that the Islam identity is one that people didn’t need to fear. We have a structured and familyoriented life that includes giving to the poor.” He calls Osama bin Laden a “crazy man” who used religion for political gain and media popularity. “There is a differentiation between using religion and what that religion actually is,” he said. He later adds, “Religion should always be a healing force. We should be able to differentiate religion from a person who does an act of terror, whether it’s a Muslim or someone in Norway who uses Christianity to kill people.”

For the past decade he has been involved in helping others understand his religion and in showing Muslim teenagers that they can have an Islamic-American identity. an Islamic-American identity. The organizations volunteer at soup kitchens once a month and build houses with other faiths for Habitat for Humanity. They sponsor “A Taste of Ramadan” at Newington High School each year and teach high school students about the reason for fasting during the sacred holiday.

Rob Heyl | Staff

Dr. Reza Mansoor at the mosque in Berlin operated by the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford.

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The Herald Press

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 11

WE REMEMBER

Kids with Bush on 9/11 saw change sweep over him By MITCH STACY ASSOCIATED PRESS

SARASOTA, Fla. — The 16 children who shared modern America’s darkest moment with President George W. Bush are high school seniors now — football players, ROTC members, track athletes, wrestlers and singers. They remember going over an eight-paragraph story so it would be perfect when they read it to the president on Sept. 11, 2001. They remember how Bush’s face suddenly clouded as his chief of staff, Andrew Card, bent down and whispered to him that the U.S. had been attacked. They remember how Bush pressed on with the reading as best he could before sharing the devastating news with the nation. “It was like a blank stare. Like he knew something was going on but he didn’t want to make it too bad for us to notice by looking different,” said Lenard Rivers, now a 17-year-old football player at Sarasota High. What the students can’t say for sure is how that moment changed them. They were just secondgraders. Their memories were only beginning. “I think we all matured maybe a little bit,” said Chantal Guerrero, now a 17-year-old senior at

Mariah Williams is now 17.

AP

Sarasota Military Academy. “... But since we were only 7, I’m not sure what kind of impact it had, because we didn’t know how things were before.” Lazaro Dubrocq, now a 17-year-old senior and captain of the wrestling team at Sarasota’s Riverview High School, said it wouldn’t be until middle school when he started seriously pondering his place in the chaotic events of Sept. 11. “I was too young and naive to fully understand the gravity of the situation,” said Dubrocq, who is headed to Columbia University to study chemical engineering

next year. “As I began to age and mature, it helped me gain a new perspective of the world and it helped me mature faster as I began to understand that there are politics and wars and genocides that occur daily throughout the world. It helped me come to a realization that the world is not a perfect place.” Sept. 11, 2001, was a steamy Tuesday in southwest Florida. The children were sitting in two neat rows in room 301 of Emma E. Booker Elementary School. Bush planned to sit in the classroom with them before moving to the media center to talk about a national reading initiative. Booker Elementary, in a lowincome area of Sarasota, was chosen for the Bush visit because Principal Gwen Tose’-Rigell had turned it into a high-performing school. As presidential trips go, it was routine, mundane even. The children were chosen because they were some of the best readers. Tose’-Rigell, who died of cancer in 2007, told The Associated Press in 2002 that Bush knew when he arrived at the school that some kind of plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York. But the news was sketchy, and the decision was made to proceed with the program at Booker. The moment when Card

Stevenson Tose-Rigell is now 20.

AP

whispered to the president about the terrorist attack came when the children were reaching under their desks for a book called Reading Mastery II. On Page 153 was “The Pet Goat,” the story the children read aloud as the president followed along with his own copy. As they began the story, some of the children sensed something was different about the president. “One kid described his face as (like) he had to use the bathroom,” Guerrero said. “That’s how we saw it in second grade. He just looked like he got the worst news in the world.”

Just behind him, visible in most of the photos and video footage of the speech, stood Stevenson Tose’-Rigell, the principal’s son. He was a fifth-grader whose class was chosen to be on the riser with the president during the speech about the reading initiative. Now a 20-year-old college student, Tose’-Rigell said his mother had staunchly defended Bush against criticism that he didn’t get up and act quickly enough after being told of the attacks. Filmmaker Michael Moore used the classroom footage in 2004 documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” showing Bush continuing to sit after getting the news from Card. “She knows kids, obviously, and she knows how kids react, and Bush did the best that he could by remaining calm, not going hysterical or anything like that and really just making a smooth transition,” Tose’-Rigell said. “Overall, she was pretty much content with the way things happened.” The rest of the day at Booker was a flurry of activity. Frantic parents came and scooped up their children, thinking the school might be a target for an attack because Bush had been there. Daniels, the teacher, made the remaining second-graders sit down and watch news coverage of the attacks and tried to explain what had happened.

Rudy Giuliani: On Sept 11, 2001 he became ‘America’s Mayor’ By BETH FOUHY ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — He was the living symbol of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a hero to a traumatized nation seeking leadership in a time of crisis. Walking miles through the streets of Manhattan, Mayor Rudy Giuliani urged New York and the world to be calm, said the city would survive. With empathy and restraint, he said the number of 9/11 dead would be “more than any of us can bear.” “It was the worst experience of my life. It was the most devastating experience for the city I was responsible for,” Giuliani told The Associated Press in a wideranging interview. A decade later, the man most

contender in 2008, when the heroics of 9/11 didn’t translate into a plausible strategy for winning the Republican nomination. And he says he’s bothered by suggestions that he profited from his 9/11 fame. Giuliani says he’s considering another presidential bid in 2012. But he’s found it hard to reclaim the mantle of greatness he earned on the city’s darkest day. His most searing memory was watching a man fall from the sky. Giuliani arrived at the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11 minutes after a second plane AP New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, center, leads New York Gov. George slammed into the south tower. He Pataki, left, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., on a tour of the site of was headed for the command post the World Trade Center disaster Sept 12, 2001. beneath the burning north tower connected with 9/11 — earn- his experience into a lucrative when police asked him to look ing the enduring moniker of security consulting career. But he skyward to avoid falling debris. “America’s Mayor” — parlayed proved a flop as a presidential “I kept looking up and I saw

a man, on the 101st floor, put himself right in the window and he just flung himself right out,” Giuliani told the AP. “I saw the fire behind him. I just froze and watched him because it was so incomprehensible.” There was no time to stop and absorb what he had seen. He strode through lower Manhattan, flanked by his administration, directing security and rescue efforts, visiting hospitals and trying to prevent the city’s operations from falling into more chaos. “We’d handled everything — airline crashes, building collapses, fires, hostage situations, other terrorist threats,” Giuliani says now. “But this was so far beyond what we’d contemplated, there must have been a moment where I thought, we can’t handle this.”


12 | Sunday, September 11, 2011

LOCAL

The Herald Press

Area residents share their recollections of Sept. 11, 2001

salutes the citizens and rescue workers who gave their lives in the attacks on 9/11, and the brave men and women who have since made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting terrorism around the world.

We Remember 9-11-01  

A vast majority of Americans know where they were and what they were doing when the events unfolded. It’s become a shared experience, and wh...

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