Just watch it.
Americans have many shortcomings.
But we are at our best when things are at their worst.
Walking on the moon:
Neil Armstrong, the first human being to ever set foot on the moon, has passed away. Despite his great accomplishment, by all accounts he remained a modest, private man to the end of his life, simply referring to himself as a "white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer." Family members described him as rejecting the role of hero. He regarded himself as simply the most visible member of an an extraordinary 10,000-member team.
What a refreshing change from today's trash-talking athletes!
Sadly, the United States abandoned moon exploration after only 12 astronauts set foot on the moon. For two dismal, uninspiring decades NASA contented itself with missions to low-earth orbit. (Sadly, that period saw more astronaut deaths than all the moon launches put together.)
An entire generation of Americans grew up barely aware that the moon landings had even taken place. Desensitized by decades of movies and television depicting fictional space flight, we have forgotten the bravery those 12 men displayed.
It was by no means a given that those men would return to earth alive- or return to earth at all.
Landing on the moon was never simple, and it was never completely safe. In 1969, William Safire wrote the following speech for then-President Nixon. It was to be presented in the event that Armstrong and Aldrin either perished while trying to leave the lunar surface, or were trapped there by equipment failure and left to slowly die:Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
This speech proved joyfully unnecessary.
"Mother Earth" would send 12 of her sons before the moon program abruptly ended. There might have been- should have been- hundreds.
Recently there was talk of NASA reviving the moon program. President Obama cancelled it.
That was when quiet, nerdy-engineer Armstrong emerged from private life:Mr. Armstrong re-entered the public spotlight a couple of years ago to voice sharp disagreement with President Obama for canceling NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the Moon. Later, he testified to a Senate committee, expressing skepticism that the approach of relying on commercial companies would succeed.
Last September, Mr. Armstrong testified to a House committee that NASA “must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force.”
In his written testimony, Mr. Armstrong astutely observed that in an era when pundits obsess over producing more STEM graduates:
Aerospace industry jobs, characteristically, require high skill and provide relatively high compensation. The Aircraft Industry Association reports Aerospace provides more than 600.000 skilled middle-class jobs and the industry supports more than 2 million middle class jobs and 30,000 suppliers from all 50 states. NASA and its supporting contractors employ hundreds of thousands of highly skilled engineers and technicians in 44 states.
He also pointed out:
Most importantly, public policy must be guided by the recognition that we live in a technology driven world where progress is rapid and unstoppable. Our choices are to lead, to try to keep up, or to get out of the way. A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain.
This is nothing less than a modern restatement of Tennyson's Ulysses:
Come, my friends,
Diller had been suffering health problems as of late: She recently hurt her hip
and wrist in a fall and has been living under hospice care at her Los Angeles
home. She passed away there this morning, surrounded by family. Diller's
longtime manager, Milton Suchin, told The Associated Press, "She died peacefully
in her sleep and with a smile on her face."
(If only we all could go like that. Somewhere out there a loud, cackling laugh is breaking the clouds.)
You can read the rest at Yahoo.
A presidential proclamation now demands that we display our patriotic fervor on the newly-created "Loyalty Day":
On Loyalty Day, we rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
Notice that date: May 1. A date historically connected to (depending on your perspective) communism, worker's rights, or socialism. Or, more recently, May 1 of 2012 (yesterday, if you've been asleep) was designated a day of special action by the increasingly choatic and anarchic Occupy Wall Street movement.
And now, suddenly, May 1 is declared Loyalty Day by presidential proclamation? A proclamation that strongly urges the display of flags and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance?
Shades of Huac. Or of a shaky president trying desperately to throw off nasty "Marxist/Alinsky" rumors that dogged him in the last campaign, as a new round of elections begins.
We already have plenty of occasions to display the flag and celebrate our great nation. Fourth of July, for example (a favorite holiday of mine). For special recognition of those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we have Memorial Day. And those are just the first two that come to mind. What we don't have is a president and a congress devoted to leading our nation into a brighter future that vindicates it's past struggles.
Don't issue proclamations demanding that I prove my loyalty, Mr. President. Get busy and do your job so I can still have a country to remain loyal to.
There is a claim now making the rounds that Loyalty Day has been in place since Eisenhower and that every president proclaims it, to wit:
George W. Bush, proclamation 8137 (April 30, 2007)
Bill Clinton, proclamation 6556 (May 1, 1993)
George H. W. Bush, proclamation 5962 (April 28, 1989)
Ronald Reagan, proclamation 4836 (April 14, 1981)
Jimmy Carter, proclamation 4493 (March 23, 1977)
Gerald Ford, proclamation 4354 (March 4, 1975)
John F. Kennedy, proclamation 3528 (April 18, 1963)
I still don't like it. I didn't like it when Bush proclaimed it. Or Clinton. Or Reagan. It's just as unnecessary and paranoid now as it was when it was first conceived at the height of the Cold War/Red Scare.
It's still a cheap opportunity for the current occupant of the Oval Office to take a swat at ugly rumors.
And I'm still offended.
The Carpathia (Image Credit: thegreatoceanliners.com)
"Are you sure it is the Titanic and requires immediate assistance?"
"You are absolutely certain?"
"All right, tell him we are coming along as fast as we can."
(Conversation between Captain Arthur H. Rostron and wireless operator Harold Cottam, 12:35 a.m., April 15, 1912)
When people speak of the Titanic, they quite rightly focus on the 1,517 passengers who drowned when the great oceanliner sank.
Yet over 700 people survived and were plucked from the ocean by the crew of the Carpathia. That rescue, led by Captain Arthur H. Rostron, was a masterpiece of organization, compassion-- and courage.
The Carpathia: Immigrants, Cargo and the Adriatic
The Carpathia was, like the Titanic, a Cunard ship. First launched in 1903, her initial assignment was the transport of immigrants and refrigorated food between the Adriatic (Trieste and Fiume) and the United States. The immigrant trade was vital to Cunard's bottom line and the Carpathia's original design reflected her intended role as a workhorse: only one third the size of the Titanic, she could accommodate 200 2nd class and 1500 steerage passengers. There were no first class accommodations.
Even so, amenities aboard the Carpathia reflected the Cunard reputation for elegance, according to RMSTitanicRemembered.com:
Despite the absence of First Class berthing, the standard of the accommodations was remarkably high: rather than imitate the gilt-and-marble extravagance of then-current German ships, Cunard placed a premium on quiet comfort. Even in Third Class there were features normally found only in higher classes on other companies’ ships–-they included a smoking room (the usual practice was for Third Class smokers to make do with taking their nicotine on the open deck, quite an impossible feat in anything but clear weather), a bar, a ladies’ sitting room and a dining saloon spacious enough to serve 300 people at one sitting–-quite large by any standard for any class of passengers at the time. Second Class had similar amenities, somewhat more opulent in decor, of course, as well as a library.
She may have been intended for mundane transport, but the Carpathia's Mediterranean route soon caught on with more fashionable clientele; the growing demand for sunny ports of call lead Cunard to add stops such as Gibraltar and Naples to her itinerary. By 1905 she was being refitted with new cabins and public rooms for and additional 100 first class passengers. Yet she retained her sleek, low-slung silhouette, in contrast to the more typical "wedding cake" design of larger passenger vessels.
Her top speed was thought to be around 15 knots.
The "Electric Spark"
Captain Arthur H. Rostron (Image Credit: rmstitanicremembered.com)
By January of 1912 the Carpathia was functioning as a full-fledged passenger liner, and she received a new captain. At 42, Captain Arthur H. Rostron was reaching the peak of his career, having taken to the sea at age 13 and quietly worked his way up the ladder from cadet to Second Mate to Fourth Officer and finally Captain. In the Cunard company he was nicknamed "The Electric Spark" for his quick decisions and and ability to galvanize everyone around him.
He stood apart in one other way, as well, according to Titanic historian Walter Lord:
"His other notable quality was piety. Rostron did not smoke or drink, never used profanity, and frequently turned to prayer. When he did so, he would lift his uniform cap slightly, and his lips would move in silent supplication."
A Distress Signal and a Plan of Action
Captain Rostron learned that the Titanic had struck an ice berg at 12:35 a.m. when the Carpathia's wireless operator, Harold Cottam, burst into the Captain's quarters and blurted out the news. Rostron promptly ordered the Carpathia to turn about. Only then did he have the following exchange with Cottam:
"Are you sure it is the Titanic and requires immediate assistance?"
"You are absolutely certain?"
"All right, tell him we are coming along as fast as we can."
Rostron then went directly to the chart room to work out the Carpathia's new course. The Titanic's last known position was 58 miles northwest and in all her years of service Carpathia had never exceeded 15 knots. At that pace it would take at least 4 hours to reach the Titanic.
Captain Rostron called in his chief engineer and ordered him to put new life into the old phrase "full speed ahead"-- rouse the off-duty watch, cut off all hot water and heat to the passenger's areas, and concentrate all fuel and manpower on one single objective: speed.
While the Chief Engineer Johnstone organized his men, Rostron sent for all other department heads and addressed them as a group on the bridge. Then- without notes or any formal preparation-he proceeded to rattle off a torrent of orders that was astonishing in both its thoroughness and grasp of detail.
Titanic historian Walter Lord lists the orders in his book The Night Lives On:
English doctor, with assistants, to remain in first-class dining room.
Italian doctor, with assistants, to remain in second-class dining room.
Hungarian doctor, with assistants, to remain in third-class dining room.
[The segregation of survivors by class was not simple Edwardian snobbery. Keeping first, second and third class ticket holders in separate groups meant that scattered family members could more easily find each other. It also reduced confusion in recording the names of the over 700 survivors.]
Each doctor to have supplies of restoratives, stimulants, and everything to hand for immediate needs of probable wounded or sick.
Purser, with assistant Purser and Chief Steward, to receive the passengers, etc., at different gangways, controlling our own steward in assisting Titanic passengers to the dining rooms, etc; also to get Christian and surnames of all survivors as soon as possible to send by wireless.
Inspector, steerage stewards, and master at arms to control our own steerage passengers and keep them out of the third-class dining hall, and also to keep them out of the way and off the deck to prevent confusion. [It should be remembered that many, if not most, of the steerage passengers would have had limited grasp of English. If they misinterpreted the activities around them to mean that the Carpathia was in danger, panic could have spread.]
"Chief Steward: That all hands would be called and to have coffee, etc., ready to serve out to all our crew.
Have coffee, tea, soup, etc., in each saloon, blankets in saloons, at the gangways, and some for the boats.
To see all rescued cared for and immediate wants attended to.
My cabin and the officer's cabins to be given up. Smoke rooms, library, etc., dining rooms, would be utilized to accommodate the survivors.
All spare berths in steerage to be utilized for Titanic's passengers, and get all our own steerage passengers grouped together.
Stewards to be placed in each alleyway to reassure our own passengers, should they inquire about noise in getting our boats out, etc., or the working of engines.
To all I strictly enjoined the necessity for order, discipline, and quietness and to avoid all confusion.
Chief and first officers: All the hands to be called; get coffee, etc. Prepare and swing out all boats.
All gangways to be opened.
Electric sprays [lights] in each gangway and over side.
A block with line rove hooked in each gangway.
A chair sling at each gangway, for getting up sick or wounded.
Boatswains' chairs. Pilot ladders and canvas ash bags to be at each gangway, the canvas ash bags for children.
Cargo falls with both ends clear; bowlines in the ends, and bights secured along the ship's side, and gaskets handy near gangways for lashing people in chairs, etc.
Forward derricks; topped and rigged, and steam on winches; also told off officers for different stations and for certain eventualities.
Ordered company's rockets to be fired at 2:45 a.m. and every quarter hour after to reassure Titanic."
The Carpathia would be transformed from a luxury liner to a completely fitted-out rescue vessel in under 4 hours.
The crew may have been ordered to keep the preparations as quiet as possible, but it was not long before several passengers sensed that something was amiss. Some were jostled awake by the steadily increasing velocity of the ship; washstands rattled and woodwook groaned under the strain. Others were puzzled by the smell of coffee and the blaze of extra lights at an hour when most passengers should be sleeping. In ones and twos they peeked into the hallways, gaping at the sight of stewards hustling back and forth with bedding and bottles of whiskey, brandy and sherry that had been comandeered for medicinal purposes. Finally one passenger- Mr. Louis Ogden- cornered a quartermaster and demanded to know what was happening. The steward told him that the Titanic was in peril and said flatly,
"We're going north like hell. Get back in your room."
In the engine room the extra hands were laying on coal as fast as they could shovel it. Eventually, the Carpathia would reach over 17 knots- a speed not even her designers had ever thought possible.
The Carpathia was now preparing to race at top speed, in the dark, through the same ice field that had sunk the Titanic. Captain Rostron used the only safeguard open to him: he assigned extra lookouts to the crow's nest, bow and each wing of the bridge. With their help the Carpathia would dodge at least 6 ice bergs as it speeded toward the Titanic's position. The journey was so perilous that Rostron later remarked:
"When day broke, I saw the ice I had steamed through during the night, I shuddered, and could only think that some other Hand than mine was on the helm during the night."
But before dawn broke, there was a different sight to make a seaman shudder. Earlier that morning lights had been seen in the distance. The Carpathia had been firing rockets at regular intervals during her approach on the assumption that they would be seen from the Titanic. Both Captain and crew had assumed they would eventually catch sight of a mortally wounded but still visible ship. The Carpathia reached the Titanic's last known position at 4 a.m.
There was nothing there.
Like the emergency rooms and blood banks of New York City on September 11, 2001, the Captain and crew of the Carpathia, fully staffed and equipped, suddenly realized that there might be no one left to save.
Then they saw the light again, low in the water. It was a lifeboat. Somewhere in the distance, an infant wailed into the frigid night air.
The first survivor welcomed onto the Carpathia was Miss Elizabeth Allen, who stepped aboard at 4:10 a.m. Miss Allen was agile enough to climb a swinging ladder, but Captain Rostron had prepared conveyances for survivors of all ages and states of health. Slings, bags, ladders and Boatswain's swings were available at every gangway to assist the aged, the injured and young children.
By 8:30 a.m., the last survivors were safely aboard the Carpathia. As each arrived on deck, they were put through a process as humane and it was methodical. First, a purser took their name and passenger class. Then they were passed on to a doctor for a quick examination. If they had no serious injuries they were then offered coffee, brandy and food. (When one little boy asked for hot chocolate instead of coffee, a steward immediately dropped everything, rushed off and returned with the preferred beverage in minutes.) Finally, having eaten and drunk, they were escorted to a bunk.
By now the liner Californian had arrived on the scene, and Captain Rostran asked her to search for any overlooked survivors. Then, as the Carpathia literally passed over the grave of the Titanic, Captain Rostran held a service of mingled grief and thanksgiving in the First Class Dining Saloon.
Then the Carpathia set course for New York. During this return voyage the passengers joined the crew in their efforts to comfort the survivors. First class passengers gave up their cabins. Second and third class passengers dug through their luggage and retrieved extra toothebrushes, combs and clothes. When survivor Harold Bride regained consciousness, he was lying in a stranger's stateroom and a woman was tenderly smoothing his hair and patting his cheek.
Return to New York
It took 3 days for the Carpathia to reach New York. In an era where "instant communications" meant a Marconi set capable of reaching under 200 miles, fear, rumor and speculation had whipped the public into a frenzy. As the ship passed the Statue of Liberty, a swarm of boats carrying press and frightened relatives hovered around her.
The shattered, physically exhausted Titanic refugees remained Captain Rostron's first concern. He promptly barred the press from his ship, sparing the survivors an onslaught of shouted questions and glaring flashes of photographer's powder. When one wiley reporter did manage to sneak aboard, he was immediately placed under arrest. All passengers remained under Rostron's protection until the moment the Carpathia docked and they tottered down the gangplank.
The Carpathia's Legacy
Figures vary slightly from one source to another, but all historians agree that more than 700 lives were spared by Captain Arthur H. Rostron's quick action and the disciplined response of his crew. Rostron was celebrated in his day but remained modest about his role in the Titanic disaster. His autobiography, Home from the Sea, devoted only one paragraph to the event.
History has allowed the Carpathia to fade from the Titanic story. In the blockbuster 1997 film, the ship appears only briefly in a final scene, the name Carpathia illuminated for just a few seconds by a passing flare. Few people can name the ship that rescued the Titanic's survivors, and fewer still appreciate the courage and skill that rescue required.
Arthur H. Rostron regarded it as the greatest achievement of his quiet life. It appears on his gravestone:
Sir ARTHUR ROSTRON
"CAPTAIN OF RMS CARPATHIA
SAVED 706 SOULS FROM
SS TITANIC 15 APRIL 1912
|THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN PEACE
BUT THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE
His name- and the name Carpathia- should live evermore as well.
Encyclopedia Titanica- Captain Arthur Henry Rostron
The Great Ocean Liners- Carpathia, 1903-1918
RMS Titanic Remembered- The Carpathia
Walter Lord, A Night to Remember- Bantam paperback reissue, 1997
Walter Lord, The Night Lives On- Avon Books Paperback, 1987
In whatever kind of a ‘race’ life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist.
Christopher Hitchens, writer and perennial target for both ardor and ire, has died at age 62. He had already discontinued further cancer treatment and was in hospice when he was felled by pnuemonia, a complication of esophageal cancer.
Spare a kind thought (not a prayer, God knows he would hate that) today for his wife and children. Agree or disagree with him, he was loved and will be missed by them.
Here's a quick roundup of reactions to his passing:
This piece at CBS News is a very good summation of his life and work, for the less-initiated:
He was a militant humanist who believed in pluralism and racial justice and freedom of speech, big cities and fine art and the willingness to stand the consequences. He was smacked in the rear by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and beaten up in Beirut. He once submitted to waterboarding to prove that it was indeed torture.
The New York Times says this:
Armed with a quick wit and a keen appetite for combat, Mr. Hitchens was in constant demand as a speaker on television, radio and the debating platform, where he held forth in a sonorous, plummily accented voice that seemed at odds with his disheveled appearance. He was a master of the extended peroration, peppered with literary allusions, and of the bright, off-the-cuff remark.
"I mean I thought of, at one point, entitling the book Both Sides Now, to describe the various ambivalences and contradictions that I've been faced with, or that I contained: English and American, Anglo-Celtic and Jewish, Marxist and — what shall we say — I've been accused of being this, accused of being a neoconservative and not always thought of it as an insult; internationalist but in a way patriotic," he said.
An official statement from one of his employers, Vanity Fair:
“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.
Vanity Fair is also running a photo essay.
From another employer, Slate:
At a rare public appearance in his final months, Hitchens conceded that his time was running short, but said that he had no plans to give up his life's work in the face of his deteriorating health. "I'm not going to quit until I absolutely have to," he said then, drawing an ovation from the crowd.
Hitchens lived up to that promise, authoring articles for a number of publications during his final weeks on everything from American politics to his own mortality. Writing for Vanity Fair in a piece that was published only days before he died, Hitchens reaffirmed that he hoped to be fully conscious and awake as he passed away, "in order to 'do' death in the active and not the passive sense," much as he had previously explained to his readers was his wish even before he learned of his cancer and prognosis.
"I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span," he wrote.
And from another employer, The Atlantic:
Hitch, an idealist committed to protecting human rights and to putting thugs in their place, embraced a muscular internationalism consistent with the stand he'd taken on the Falklands war (in 1982, Christopher, a then-uncompromising socialist, was at one with Mrs. Thatcher) and that he would take on the two wars against Saddam Hussein.
(Image Credit: Minnesota Conservatives)
Below is the full address given by FDR December 8, 1941:
This Reuters interviews features the comments of Pearl Harbor survivor Don Stratton:
Don Stratton is correct when he says that people forget. I wonder what will be remembered about 9/11 70 years from now?
There was an apochryphal story in my ex-husband's family. His grandparents had friends living in Hawaii in December 1941. They were American citizens of Japanese extraction. December 7th was a Sunday. The wife had gone into town on an errand while her husband relaxed in his kimono in their livingroom, reading. Suddenly, the front door burst open. His wife charged into the room.
"Stand up!" she ordered. Bewildered, he got out of his chair. Before he could stop her, she ripped the kimono off his back, ran outside and stuffed it into the trash incinerator. When she came back she yanked a brand-new, American-style bathrobe out of a shopping bag and threw it at him.
"Put this on," she snapped. "We're in trouble."
We remember stories like this now, and stories of the Japanese internment. But at the time of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese military was remembered for their barbarous behavior during the Rape of Nanking in 1937:
On December 9, the Japanese troops launched a massive attack upon the city. On the 12th, the defending Chinese troops decided to retreat to the other side of the Yangtze River (Yangzi Jiang). On December 13, the 6th and 16th Divisions of the Japanese Army entered the city' s Zhongshan and Pacific Gates. In the afternoon, two Japanese Navy fleets arrived. In the following six weeks, the occupying forces engaged in an orgy of looting and mass execution which came to be known as the Nanking Massacre. Most experts agree that at least 300,000 Chinese died, and 20,000 women were raped. Some estimate the numbers to be much higher - 340,000 and 80,000 respectively.
(Image Credit: Nanking-massacre.com)
Things are forgotten because narratives compete over time. It does not seem appropriate to dwell on the documented atrocities of Nanking while the peaceful Japanese nation of today struggles with the Fukushima disaster. Likewise, guilt over the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined with the memory of our own civil rights struggles in the 1960s have brought Japanese Internment to the forefront of American memory in recent times.
Both of these narratives contain important truths, yet neither tells the entire story. The piece that we re-examine and honor today is the sudden attack on O'ahu and the brave Americans who gave their lives resisting it: 2,043 dead (68 civilians), 1,178 injured.
Some interesting links:
History.com- a thorough treatment of the subject, with articles and video.
CNIC.navy.mil- The official Pearl Harbor Joint Base website, with complete, up-to-date reports on the observances taking place there today.
British Pathe.com- an outstanding collection of histoic videos covering all aspects of the attack, including the Japanese reaction and event in Hawaii.
Ten years ago 40 strangers on a doomed airplane decided to work together- and together they saved thousands of people they would never live to meet.
Yet today, our remembrance of them remains incomplete. The Flight 93 memorial fund lacks $10 million dollars and the memorial remains unfinished.
Can we please follow their solemn example at least long enough to complete their memorial? Even if we can't cooperate on anything else these days, surely we can do this much.
Let's act like the country that the heroes of Flight 93 died to save. Let's do this.
The link to donate is here.
(Image Credit: kconnors/Morguefile)
I thought I would post just a few links for video/online material related to 9/11.
This documentary chronicles the life of Franciscan Friar Mychal Judge, the FDNY Chaplain who followed Christ into the burning towers and out of this mortal life. (His body was the first recovered from the disaster.) Through footage and interviews with friends and colleagues, Father Mychal emerges as a complex, vibrant, devoted Christian- and an equally devoted New Yorker and FDNY chaplain.
Director Steven Rosenbaum presents events in New York City through the eyes of several New Yorkers. It combines the catastrophic footage of the Twin Towers with footage of average New Yorkers both struggling alone and coming together to overcome the awful events of 9/11. A sensitive documentary that presents the entire spectrum of human emotion.
French brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet set out to make a film about how a rookie becomes an FDNY firefighter but were swept up in the events of 9/11 when their camera accidentally captured the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. The resulting documentary is raw and riveting as they follow that rookie- and his entire unit- into the Trade Center during the desperate rescue attempt.
This is the only non-documentary I've included in my list, but it deserves a permanent spot. Director Paul Greengrass recreates the what is known about the events aboard United Flight 93 in tense but respectful detail. Working from primary documents- and even using a number of people who were actually working on the ground that day to recreate the FAA's desperate attempts to track the hijacked planes- Greengrass creates a compelling picture of the ordinary passengers who dared to attack their hijackers.
Although not directly related to 9/11, this documentary about Phillip Petits' highwire stroll between the Twin Towers in 1974 places the buildings in their historical context. It reminds us that the World Trade Center was a symbol (albeit controversial) of power, modernity and progress long before it became an icon of tragedy.
History.com has an excellent website featuring as interactive map of the area around the World Trade Center. When you click on various locations you are shown a video of that day taken by an ordinary person who was at that location. The homemade videos are short, but powerful: an NYU student watching from a dormitory, a man living in a nearby apartment building filming firemen taking refuge in the lobby.
New York Times: Portraits of Grief This is the NYT's now-famous collection of essay/obituaries, one for each Trade Center victim. They are now accompanied by a new feature, following up on the surviving families and where they are now.
New York Times: A Nation Challenged The complete archives of NYT coverage of 9/11.
Biography.com: About 9/11: A thorough overview of 9/11 including facts and figures, a powerful photo gallery, portraits of the victims, and more.
Interactive Publishing.net offers a fascinating collection of screenshots of the front pages of dozens of domestic/international newspapers on September 11&12, 2001. Well worth a look, even if you can't read all the languages.
Rescue at Water's Edge this short video offers a tribute to all the mariners- in craft large and small- who rushed to rescue survivors in New York and transport supplies and help.
Last and Certainly Least...
Here's a list of links to my previous 9/11 posts over the years:
It Is the Evening of the Day (2007)
...And This Also... (2009)
Fanfare for the Common Man (2010)
Best wishes for this weekend of unhappy remembrance. Hug your loved ones; you never know what might take them from you. Shake a policeman, EMTs' or firefighter's hand; you never know when you might need them.