Everyone remembers the pictures, but I think more and more about the sounds. I always ask people what they heard that day in New York. We've all seen the film and videotape, but the sound equipment of television crews didn't always catch what people have described as the deep metallic roar. The other night on TV there was a documentary on the Ironworkers of New York's Local 40, whose members ran to the site when the towers fell. They pitched in on rescue, then stayed for eight months to deconstruct a skyscraper some of them had helped build 35 years before. An ironworker named Jim Gaffney said, "My partner kept telling me the buildings are coming down and I'm saying 'no way.' Then we heard that noise that I will never forget. It was like a creaking and then the next thing you felt the ground rumbling."
Noonan powerfully concludes her thoughts:
This reminded me of that moment when Todd Beamer of United 93 wound up praying on the phone with a woman he'd never met before, a Verizon Airfone supervisor named Lisa Jefferson. She said later that his tone was calm. It seemed as if they were "old friends," she later wrote. They said the Lord's Prayer together. Then he said "Let's roll." This is what I get from the last messages. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they'd guess. And this: We're all lucky to be here today and able to say what deserves saying, and if you say it a lot, it won't make it common and so unheard, but known and absorbed. I think the sound of the last messages, of what was said, will live as long in human history, and contain within it as much of human history, as any old metallic roar.
May God Bless the United States of America on this fifth anniversary of one of our greatest tragedies.
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