I Want to Look, Help, Pray and Cry

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I Want to Look, Help, Pray and Cry
By Eddie Brown

On the evening of 9/11 I felt I needed to go to the Twin Towers.
Several in our apartment building didn't come home that night.
I wanted to look, I wanted to help, I wanted to pray and cry.
I called for a cab to pick me up the next morning.

There is more to this, I'm sure you know, but this is how it started.
I took a lens and camera. When the cab driver drove in he said: "I don't know how far I can drive down there." I took my first picture from inside his cab —from the back seat looking through the front window—down between the buildings through that narrow corridor, seeing it get sootier till all you saw was smoldering ash and eerie smoke. Finally he stopped. "I don't have the stomach to go further," was all he said.
Many of the pictures I took looked to be good photography. I viewed those days later, then just closed them in a folder and never had the heart or stomach to show them. If hell has a picture it's in that folder.

Back then, out of the cab, I walked block after block to the center. The soot got deeper, over our shoes, then above our ankles. People were walking with pictures of love ones. The first one who stopped me shows me a picture of his wife: "Did you see her? She did not come home last night.” The walls of the buildings are covered with pictures posted with writing: “If you see him please call me.” “Please God, if you see her call me.” “My husband is missing.”

Children are looking for their dad, their mom. They see me. "If you see my mom, call me, PLEASE Mister. PLEASE.”
Again, this is not the story I intend to tell; it is just a part of the being there.
Standing at the start of the rubble—soot well past my ankles—I look up at a very hurt and now vacated building, its windows blown out. Five floors up a young woman with her hands holding her face in disbelief, gazes down at the smoldering rubble of the Twin Towers.
I walk around the outside of the building, find an open door, and climb empty stairs until I find her— still looking out, still holding her face in her hands.

I approach her quietly
And she starts to slowly speak:
“I am a nurse at the hospital.
I wanted to help yesterday.
I wanted to do my part.
We all did. We all wanted to help.
Today
I just had to come and look.
I had to come and pray...
I had to come and cry.
“Yesterday when the first plane hit
Our hospital went on full disaster alert.
Totally Full Alert,
We wanted to help—
We all wanted to help
Gurneys were pushed out and formed a line
From the hospital doors to the streets
Two of us to a gurney.. On full alert. Waiting
Prepared as ever we could be
For a disaster—for this disaster
“An hour went by...
Another hour
We waited.
Nobody left their position
And we waited.
The sky got quiet.
There wasn’t even one plane in the sky.
Police blocked the roads; only emergency vehicles got through.
Then cars stopped and
It got deathly quiet.
And we stood there...
We stood
An hour, two hours,
Half the day went by and we
And we ...
Oh God, nobody came.
So prepared...
So waiting...
And no body came.
We stood there.
Prepared.
Nobody came.

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The Oakmont Historical Society

The Oakmont Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of Oakmont, Pennsylvania. We are located at 628 Allegheny River Blvd. Oakmont, PA 15139. Our Curator/Archivist, Colleen McGuigan may be reached at: (412) 828-3022, (412) 607-4782,  mcpedder@hotmail.comoakmonthistory@gmail.com 

 

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