In one of the most despicable and cowardly acts of terrorism, the whole building of the World Trade Center, New York was totally destroyed on September 11, 2001 by hijacking and ramming two civilian planes into the building. The material loss as well as that of human life was profound, with the travelers and crew in the planes as well as those working in the building being killed instantaneously. Many people suffered injuries and will carry the scars for life.
In such man made as well as natural disasters, many heroes and heroines emerge from the events who display exemplary courage in such adverse circumstances. Three such persons, who displayed extraordinary courage at the WTC (World Trade Center), now labeled as ‘Ground Zero’ site are described below:
One of the heroes, Ed Fine, was not part of any emergency response team but a person who happened to be in one of the affected towers for some business on the fateful day (O’Connell, 2005). Although in such circumstances the usual reaction is panic and an effort to save one’s own skin, Ed showed remarkable presence of mind and a cool attitude due to which he was able to save the lives of a number of people. Fine was a businessman from New Jersey who had scheduled an important meeting at the WTC on the fateful day. He was on the 78th Floor when the first plane struck. He was waiting for the elevator and initially thought that a bomb had exploded.
His immediate response was to look for an emergency exit. On opening a door which he presumed to be an emergency exit, he discovered a group of people who were panic struck. More people walked in displaying confusion in their utterances. Fine, however maintained his cool and asked them to wait for him until he had found the actual emergency door. The panic struck people complied and after discovering the actual emergency exit, Fine came back and led all the people down the staircase to safety. In normal circumstances, panic struck people in such circumstances often lose their cool and run to save their own lives. But Fine showed exemplary courage and presence of mind in saving the lives of his fellow men. By his own admittance, Ed Fine is a God fearing man and till date he believes that God had a purpose in sending him to the WTC on the fateful day. He continues to work hard in his business to this day with the same attitude to help others in their hour of need (O’Connell, 2005).
Another hero was a man-dog combination team which was one of the first who arrived at the scene of the tragedy voluntarily (Ocean beach Dog, un). Captain Scott Shields was a trained rapid response person who had received his training from the US Coast Guard, National Guard and the Red Cross. He saw the live broadcast of the tragedy on the television and displayed no hesitation in rushing to the scene of the tragedy along with his dog, a Golden Retriever named Bear who was trained as a search rescue dog. 28 minutes after the second explosion, the man-dog team was at the site after Shields had driven frantically towards it in order to save as many lives as possible.
The pair worked relentlessly throughout the night and the following morning and continued to work after breaks in the following days. According to official records they were the first trained man-dog rescue squad on the site. Bear was trained to respond to a verbal command by Scott “Find the Baby!” and he made numerous discoveries of humans, both dead and alive from the rubble.
The dog worked for almost eighteen hours per day as long as the team was in operation and suffered physical and health damage in the process. Bear sustained an injury during the process, which though treated turned cancerous later on and the brave dog died on September 23, 2002 after the first anniversary of the WTC tragedy. The dog was identified as a national hero and given a State funeral by the New York State Fire department. His owner, Captain Scott Shields still preserves the ashes of the brave dog in a Gold Box (Ocean Beach Dog, un).
Medical professionals are the ones who provide immediate assistance to the injured people in such a disaster as the WTC tragedy. Another unlikely heroine of the event was a young Asian-American registered Nurse (RN) who lived in New York’s Chinatown on the 44th floor (Blecher, 2002). Lucille Yip, who worked at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan, was rudely awakened on the fateful day by the sound of the twin explosions. She could actually see the twin towers burning from her bedroom window and was horrified on witnessing the scene. She immediately phoned her family members and after reassuring them of her own safety, she got ready for her duty at the emergency response center of her hospital.
To her horror she discovered that no public transportation was available in the city as it had been put in disarray. But her resolve made her hitchhike to the hospital on a sanitation truck as she knew and realized that grievously injured people would soon flood the emergency department of her hospital as it was one of the hospitals close to the vicinity of the tragedy. She worked relentlessly for two days doing 13 hour shifts and tried to console the patients as well as their families in their hour of crisis. Although physically and mentally disturbed by the sights of the patients she encountered, she maintained a calm exterior and broke down only when she returned to her apartment. The tragedy evoked great sympathy in her for the unfortunate people which made her visit ‘Ground Zero’ 2 days after the tragedy despite no compulsion to do so. She wanted to see firsthand the impact of the destruction that had been caused due to the terrorist attack. She remained emotionally perturbed for a long time and it was only after assistance of her relatives and a visit to the Church that she was able to regain her composure.
Man made tragedies like terrorist attacks and intentional damage to fellow human beings are the most horrifying events that one can unfortunately encounter in the course of one’ life. The immediate emotional response is that of shock and stupor which evokes a sense of fear and helplessness. However, some individuals are undaunted and rise beyond their capacity on such occasions and help the sufferers without selfish interest. It is on such occasions that one realizes the sense of human love and bonding which exists naturally in most humans.
The three persons described above showed exemplary resolve and courage in facing the disaster at WTC in their own individual manner. Ed Fine was not even trained to handle such situations but his innate God fearing nature and compassion for fellow beings made him help the unfortunate victims who were in the same precarious situation. Captain Scott Shields was a trained person who did not hesitate to perform his duty during the crisis and made it a point to reach the site of the tragedy as soon as possible. His dog, Bear worked incessantly during the following days and succumbed to the injuries he sustained during his brave ordeal. Lucille Yip realized the compassion she had in her heart for fellow human beings and performed her duties to perfection.