Life After Death
To have lived at the start of all this--to have watched the sudden, thudding impact of those doomed planes or the impossible crumble of the world’s most potent symbols of prosperity and power--is to understand on a visceral level that American life has changed, perhaps forever. True, with clenched jaws and admirable faith in the future, we all got back to work. We carried on with the business of America while beginning the grim work of recovery and retribution. But during recent weeks, the collateral damage from that first strike has spread like ripples in a pond, changing the course of lives in unexpected places and ways. To follow the ripples from Sept. 11, 2001, as we did in gathering these stories from around the country, is to understand first that time can heal and life goes on. But following them also shows that, from the moment terror first struck, no one and nothing escaped unscathed.
--Martin J. Smith
Miss America’s Hard Reign
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
During her first week as the newly crowned Miss America, Katie Harman toured the rubble tomb that holds more than 5,000 bodies, cried openly with New York City firefighters and visited makeshift memorials for the missing and dead. “It has forever changed me, not only in the role of Miss America, but the way I personally view what has happened,” says Harman, who, as Miss Oregon, won the national pageant.
During the competition, Harman said she would dedicate her reign to supporting terminally ill breast cancer patients if she won the title. But since her visit to ground zero, she has recognized the broader role she’ll have to play in the coming year. “Before, Miss America was seen as a pageant figure, as a bathing beauty,” Harman says. “[But] because she is an American icon, people view her as a symbol of freedom and what we stand for. It’s up to me to provide that leadership and rally their spirit and hope to go on.”
Wearing blue sweats and a hard hat, the 21-year-old communications major at Portland State University toured the devastated World Trade Center buildings in the rain just three days after the pageant. Stopping to offer hugs, kisses and encouragement to rescue workers and firefighters, she posed for photos, signed T-shirts, helmets and even dollar bills with “God Bless You.” And she’ll never forget the looks on the faces of those she met.
“I have never seen that look before, this mix of despair and hope at the same time,” says Harman. “There was this great spirit in the midst of tragedy.”
Harman says her work with women with terminal breast cancer prepared her for her expanded role. Death is “something I’m very familiar with, which is wonderful because I can take that information to the American public and say, ‘It’s OK to grieve and mourn,’ and talk about how we can cope.” Harman also hopes to meet with families of the victims “to bring a message of hope: There can be life in death.”
Still, Harman has had to wrestle with private fears. In the coming year, she’ll travel an average of 20,000 miles a month. “Obviously, I have had to look past those personal fears and trust [that] my life is in God’s hands.”
Testing Press Freedom
He drew a typical cartoon, a small panel on an Op-Ed page at a student-run newspaper on a university campus. It was designed to spark discussion, not a demonstration. But now that the protesters have dispersed at UC Berkeley, the nasty letters subsided and the name-calling (Racist!) lowered in volume, it is Darrin Bell who is rethinking the political cartoon he submitted a week after the attacks.
He is thinking about art and comedy and pain, and how it is possible to incorporate tragedy into a form of communication that makes people laugh while they’re thinking. He is wondering how a campus that has seen his editorial cartoons for nearly a decade--that knows he is an African American and a loud-mouthed leftist on issues surrounding race--could have misinterpreted his work so badly.
If a cartoonist ignores Sept. 11, “it’s like drawing cartoons about office politics on the Titanic,” says Bell, 26. But being topical in a place like Berkeley got Bell 800 e-mails and a stream of invectives. (Racist!)
The cartoon is of two men with beards, turbans and long robes. They are standing in the hand of the devil with a flight manual at their feet. They think they are in heaven, in keeping with a belief held by some Islamic fundamentalists that martyrs shall be rewarded. They are actually in hell. “We made it to paradise!” one terrorist crows. “Now we will meet Allah, and be fed grapes, and be serviced by 70 virgin women.”
Protesters responded by storming the Daily Californian offices, occupying them through the night. They saw the cartoon as an incitement to violence against people of Arab extraction. The next day, armed with microphones and placards, they gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall. The demonstrators wanted Bell silenced and demanded an apology from the newspaper staff. Neither happened.
“I was deeply offended by the stereotypical portrayal of Muslims and Arabs in the cartoon,” Zaakir Yoonas wrote to the newspaper’s editor. “The cartoon displays Muslims as ‘hook-nosed Arabs,’ analogous to the portrayal of African Americans as ‘big-lipped criminals’ and Asians as ‘slant-eyed despots.’ ”
Everyone in the cartoon world of Darrin Bell has a hooked nose. “It’s my style,” Bell says. “The way I drew the terrorists is the way I draw CEOs.” It’s also not what he sees as the issue. What is the issue? Free speech and civil liberties, he says.
“We can’t tell cartoonists not to draw any minorities,” Bell wrote in response to the critics. “We cannot force a newspaper to apologize for letting someone share his opinion, even if that opinion may incite some hopelessly ignorant bigots to anger. We cannot put a price on freedom, or the terrorists win.”
Even so, Bell is reevaluating the role editorial cartoons play in his drawing career. Most of his energy these days is spent pushing Rudy Park, a strip about a dot.commer who lost his job at a start-up and now manages a cyber cafe. By early October, the strip had been purchased by about 45 publications. Bell worries that the controversy over his political work could taint what he hopes is a bright future.
“I’ve dealt with editors since ‘95,” Bell says. He has learned that editorial cartoons can be controversial, but comic strips cannot. “One thing I know is that, when you’re not talking about the Opinion page, if you get three negative letters, that’s it. You’re history.”
--Maria L. La Ganga
The Unexpected Crash of General Aviation
Stanley Rodenhauser’s small private airport and flight school northeast of Washington, D.C., is a family-run operation that’s been in business for 55 years.
“General [small planes] aviation, you know, it’s an important industry, a real tradition in America--in a sense, we go back to the Wright brothers,” says Rodenhauser, owner of Freeway Aviation Flight Training Center. “We train a lot of young adults, give them their first experience with flying. We’ve never made a huge amount of money, but we’ve always done OK, been self-sustaining. We never asked for any handouts from anybody.”
But that was before a man named Hani Hanjour helped turn Rodenhauser’s world upside down. In the second week of August, Hanjour showed up at Freeway, presented a federal pilot’s license and inquired about renting one of the school’s single-engine Cessna 172s. But when Freeway’s instructors took Hanjour on test flights, a standard precaution, they found that he had trouble controlling and landing the aircraft. They declined to rent him a plane. A month later, Hanjour’s picture would flash on TV screens as the hijacker who apparently steered a Boeing 757 into the Pentagon.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” says Rodenhauser. “We were careful. In our case, the system worked.”
That hasn’t done Rodenhauser much good. In the wake of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all small aircraft and closed small local airports. Since then, the agency has allowed most to reopen. But Freeway, because it is within 25 nautical miles of the nation’s capital, remained barred from doing business, with no change in sight. “Basically they’ve confiscated my business. I haven’t had any income in weeks. At 8 a.m. on September 11, I had a fleet of 18 planes worth $1 million. At 10 a.m., they were worthless.”
Rodenhauser had put up his business and personal assets as collateral when he borrowed money to expand. Now, at age 60, he stands to lose everything.
Rodenhauser watches with frustration as the government rushes to bail out the big airlines, whose security procedures made them vulnerable to disaster. Meanwhile, his business is withering away. “Those policy makers, they need to come out here--they’re not seeing the real world,” he says. “It’s like we’re in a war zone here.”
--Patrick J. Kiger
New York City
Pizzeria owner Agostino Scozzari finally feels at home. In the days after the attack, Scozzari waited in a 90-minute line to buy three American flags, eight flag T-shirts for his employees and several lapel ribbons and flag stickers. That never would have happened in Germany, where Scozzari lived for 38 years before moving to the U.S. in 1999. He never bought German flags, rooted for the German soccer team or took pride in the country’s national anthem.
“I never had the feeling that I was a part of Germany,” recalls Scozzari, 45. “Now, I feel a part of America.”
Scozzari’s Italian restaurant, Cucina Bene, is a block from the New York Stock Exchange. On Sept. 11, his restaurant’s shelves held 35 raw pizzas, ready for the conveyor belt oven in time for the lunchtime rush. There was no lunchtime rush. He was forced to throw away 200 pounds of cheese and 180 pounds of meat products, together valued at more than $6,000.
A native of Italy, Scozzari moved to New York not knowing a word of English. He learned to speak it from customers, with whom he built relationships through voices, first names and addresses. But while friends and relatives know the fate of their loved ones, Scozzari doesn’t know which of his customers survived. He hasn’t heard from any of his World Trade Center clients--not from Ricky, who worked on the 86th floor of the north tower, or Lisa, on the 37th floor of the same tower, or Megan, on the 87th floor of the south tower.
“You go to the phone and you think maybe it’s Ricky, but it’s not Ricky,” says Scozzari, a heavyset man with slicked-back hair. “You’re always thinking maybe the people in the World Trade Center are in another office, but nobody calls you. I don’t hear one voice.
“We never will know what’s happened with these people.”
Customers who come in for calzones, pizza slices and garlic rolls are in a different mood now. “All the faces from the people are very, very down. You can see in the faces that the people are suffering. You never see the people happy anymore.”
In between these moments of grief, Scozzari worries about his financial future. Cucina Bene used to make 70 deliveries daily during the week, many to the twin towers and neighboring One Liberty Plaza, which was severely damaged. Now deliveries number a mere 12, and business overall is down 45%.
Scozzari, who is in the U.S. on a business visa, turned to a bank for help, but his request for a $40,000 loan was rejected because he hasn’t lived in this country long enough. He has asked his landlord for more time to pay the restaurant’s rent. So far, he continues to keep all eight employees working full time, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he says he’ll have to tell two of them to stay home.
That frightens him because most of his employees have children and depend on their income.
“We are a small family,” says Scozzari. “I have to do whatever I can do. I want to survive, and I think we can survive. I don’t want to be a loser.”
Back in Touch With Family
Many Americans have experienced feelings of fear and isolation. But for Oakland resident Sandre Swanson, there was something else: The attacks brought his extended family together.
Swanson’s cousin, flight attendant Wanda Green, died when United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. Days later, as chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, he helped field thousands of often-angry telephone calls and e-mails from across the nation after his boss cast the lone vote against a congressional resolution giving President Bush the authority to wage war. Now Swanson, 52, is reevaluating everything--his longtime career as a political worker, his thoughts about American foreign policy and his approach to the people he loves most. His aunts, uncles and cousins were major players in his childhood, looking out for his best interests and assisting his parents with discipline. Green, 49, one of the nation’s first African American flight attendants, was one of his favorites. But Swanson, who is married with five children and one grandchild, had fallen out of touch with Green and others in his extended family.
He was watching the devastation on television when he received a phone call from Green’s identical twin, Sandra Jamerson. First he cried. Then he kicked into family mode, rushing to his uncle and aunt’s house in nearby West Oakland. Being with relatives, he says, helped him process both his and the nation’s loss. And somehow that tempered any thoughts of reacting in anger. He spent hours on the telephone with Lee, counseling her on the alternatives to war. “All my life I’ve said there are alternatives . . . . Even with my own loss, I did not want to strike out blindly.” Swanson is preparing for the emotional aftershock that he knows will come. For the rest of the year, he has canceled all business trips, choosing instead to work in Oakland. He is starting a foundation to honor Wanda Green. Rather than retire, as he had contemplated, the attacks have fueled a newfound resolve to keep working for change within the political system. He plans to stay with Lee as long as she remains in Congress. And family will come first.
--John M. Glionna
Somerset County, Pa.
The Lost Isolation of a Remote Community
As students at a tiny high school in western Pennsylvania’s rural Somerset County watched the terrorist attacks unfold on television, they were comforted by the thought that the remote and peaceful world they live in--a landscape of heavily wooded ridges, sleepy mountain villages and rich, rolling pastures--was naturally buffered by terrain and sheer distance.
Then, at 10:10 a.m., tremors rocked the building. Doors quivered and plate glass windows rattled. Seconds later, the students saw a towering fireball blossom in the sky above a distant tree line, marking a site, a half mile away, where United Airlines Flight 93 slammed into a hillside. In that moment, the children of Somerset County, may have lost the sense of safety and security they once assumed was their birthright.
“We think sometimes that we’re so far out in the country, we’re so far removed, that the world doesn’t affect us,” says Gary Singel, superintendent of the Shanksville/Stony Creek School District in Somerset County. “Fads are slow getting here. When everybody’s piercing their ears and other body parts, we’re not doing that. It takes a while, and then suddenly somebody shows up with an earring and we say, ‘Oh, it’s finally arrived.’
“The outside world seeps in, it doesn’t rush in. Well, this rushed in. It came quickly, and suddenly Shanksville is being mentioned by Tom Brokaw on the national news. This brought things into perspective very quickly. What happened in New York and the rest of the world is now in our backyard, and we’re tied to it.”
Singel ordered counselors to the modern three-story building that houses classrooms for the district’s 500 students, but he says few students have sought their help. “I don’t think they wish to think about it,” he says, “but I think they do think about it, and I think they talk about it with their friends. I think what’s on their mind is, ‘What does the future hold for them? What will the world be like in 20 years? Can we hope for 20 years? Can we solve this problem?’ ”
Singel feels that the anxieties caused by the attacks will affect children of this generation even more deeply than the Cuban missile crisis and the fears of nuclear war that troubled the children of the early 1960s. “This is more frightening in that it’s happening on our soil, and it’s so difficult to guard against,” he says.
Still, Singel believes there are enough bright spots amid the tragedy to give his students some hope: the heroism of emergency workers in New York; the bravery of the defiant passengers on Flight 93; and, more immediately, the outpouring of compassion and support offered by their own relatives and neighbors for the families of the crash victims.
Singel hopes that the students grasp these lessons of unity and connection, because he says it’s the sort of wisdom we need to guide us through the new world that was born that September morning.
FATHER JAMES WILLIAMS
Long Island, N.Y.
Waiting for the Real Repercussions
How does one move on? How does the president of a Catholic school where four boys lost fathers and 40 students lost close relatives help his children and teachers get on with life?
“We have to confront this tragedy no matter how painful, because the reality is, everybody in our school knew somebody,” says Father James Williams of Chaminade High School in Mineola, Long Island. “We have to see that there will be joy again, happiness again, and in order to get there, we’ll have to be able to incorporate the difference into our lives and move forward.”
Students and faculty pray a lot. “I have to remind myself that this day didn’t just end on the 11th, and to remind others that this isn’t all we have, and that for those people who died, their eternal lives have just begun,” Williams says.
“In eternity, God calls the shots. There aren’t any terrorists in heaven.”
Williams, 32, is one of the youngest high school principals in the state of New York. One year after taking the helm of Chaminade, one of Long Island’s most selective private schools, he now has to steer his boys through an ocean of grief. In addition to the devastation among families of current students, 20 alumni are dead or missing. And fathers of dozens of boys are firefighters, police officers and emergency workers.
“I have boys who come to me and say, ‘Father, my dad’s never coming home,’ and they’re talking about the psychological damage this has all had on their fathers, who are firemen, policemen. They come home from ground zero and they’re just not there. They cry, they don’t talk, they just sleep and go back to work. And this is how it’s going to be for months to come,” says Williams. “We have so many kids who are mourning deaths, and others who are mourning a kind of living death. The impact is so huge-- I don’t think we’ve even begun to feel the real repercussions of this yet.”
HOOD QA’IM - MAQAMI
New York City
At Least Bigots Are Still Funny, Right?
“Stupid is always going to be funny,” Hood was saying. He was seated in the cafe above the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, waiting to go on--and still unsure how his routine would unfold. He was thinking of doing a bit about a sign he saw on a bridge into Manhattan, “GO HOME TOWELLHEADS.”
He is angry because “towelhead was spelled wrong. I want to tell the guy, ‘Towel has only one ‘l,’ you idiot!’ But the kind of person who wouldn’t spell towelheads right is exactly the sort of person who is going to come after the towelheads. He’s not going to attack me, because I look like everyone else. He’s going to attack the Indians and the Sikhs. Bigots have always been stupid, but I think they’ve gotten stupider over time. After Pearl Harbor, we didn’t go after people from Nairobi, we went after the Japanese. Now idiots like this can’t distinguish between a towelhead and a sandmonkey. And what is stupider than blind, bigoted rage directed against the wrong people?”
Hood looked for the smallest reaction, as comedians do when they’re floating lines. And lines are all he has these days. Sure, he’s wearing sandals and a gray Sandmonkey T-shirt. But he’s without the props that were the bookends of his act: the dynamite belt he counted on to win his opening laughs, when he’d speak of giving the audience “an offering from Allah” and then lift his shirt; and the headdress he wore in his closing bit, when he boasted of his skill as a ventriloquist and then covered his mouth with the checkered cloth: The audiences always got it.
The props are now in Hood’s closet. One of the local clubs canceled his appearances: “It’s for your own safety” they told him. He wasn’t about to bring the dynamite, but they didn’t even ask. Had they asked, he would have said, “I don’t mind getting beaten up, I just don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.”
Now America’s only front-line Middle Eastern comedian needs a new act. He senses he may be able to use the attacks, and where he was that day. But he’s pretty sure he’ll have to do it without those props.
Hood’s full name is Hood Qa’Im-maqami. He was born 32 years ago in Iran and left at age 8 when his father, a veterinarian, got a fellowship in America. When his parents split, he wound up with his mom in Encino. He was valedictorian of his graduating class at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, and then went to the University of Pennsylvania, where friends urged him to enter a competition for student comedians. That was his first time onstage. His second time, he opened for Kevin Nealon of “Saturday Night Live.”
In creating his routine, Hood trusted his instincts. He thought about carrying a gun onstage, so he got a pink water pistol, wrapped it with black tape and stuck it in his back pocket. But the pros told him that was a hack joke--threatening to shoot the uncooperative audience--so he replaced the gun. Dynamite made more sense, anyway, given his stage persona as Hood the Arab Terrorist.
Hood’s first aim was to get laughs. His second was to debunk stereotypes--and defuse slurs like “sandmonkey.” It amazed him how Middle Easterners were seen as sorry cabdrivers in New York but as ostentatious rich dudes in L.A. About the only thing those images had in common was the intelligence--low.
Hood’s life defied the stereotypes. He was hardly rich, having been raised in the flats of the San Fernando Valley by a single mom--a feminist, no less. They weren’t even Muslim, but Bahai. After Penn, he went on to an MIT-Harvard master’s program in economic development, then got a job with Lehman Brothers, the investment banking giant, in New York.
He knew not to preach onstage. His intuition told him to simply be himself up there, smart and funny. That would send enough of a message--and keep him working. So he lived two lives. Daytime: Wall Street. Nighttime: the clubs. He did well enough to earn occasional TV dates and campus gigs.
Yet if he at times felt like a second-class citizen in America, Hood also felt like a second-class comedian. Why? Those props. “More industry credit goes to those who just go up there with a mike,” he noted. “I don’t think anyone totally respects a prop act.”
That’s why he saw an odd upside to the tragedy that forced him to leave the props at home. He’d have to walk without his crutches.
Hood went downstairs to the Comedy Cellar. There was a healthy crowd for a Tuesday, more than 100 people. Colin Quinn, another “Saturday Night Live” veteran, finished his set and the MC announced, “He’s been on Comedy Central. And it’s no bull, man, he actually worked at the World Trade Center . . . .”
Hood launched into his usual introduction, explaining how his name was “an ancient Arabic word meaning ‘top of your car.’ ” In place of his dynamite bit, he announced that he was from Iran, “which means for the next year or so, I’ll be E-talian.”
Then he said, yes, he’d worked at the twin towers, but was late that morning, having worked the clubs the night before. He was perhaps a mile away when the planes hit.
He had thought of several possible routines, like about the “towellhead” bigot. He went instead into how he always kept goodies for co-workers (“to bribe people into being my friend”) and was carrying four huge tins that morning, including animal crackers. He clung to them as he ran toward the burning towers, and as he fled the cloud of debris.
The audience wasn’t laughing. Perhaps the story took too long. Perhaps he hadn’t worked it enough. When he reached the punch line about the absurdity of clutching “$26 worth of food,” there wasn’t much reaction.
“Let’s move on,” Hood said. “Let’s talk about dates!”
What professional comedian doesn’t have bits about dating, or marriage, or the quirks of using a toaster? At least they’re proven. “I don’t date American women because they complain too much. It’s like, ‘It’s cold in here. It’s dark in here. Let me out of this trunk! UNTIE ME!’ ”
Now the audience laughed. And then again when he explained that he never dated supermodels either--they always said “No.”
Minutes later, Hood said “Good night!” and went back upstairs to the restaurant. He sat with several comics and the owner, Manny Dworman. “I’m still workin’ on it,” Hood said.
Another fellow was at the bar, looking at scribbled notes, his hat pulled down to keep civilians from recognizing him. Like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock can show up at any time to try out routines. Rock also was pondering how to find material in Sept. 11, perhaps in how he feared it was Judgment Day. As in, “This is IT. Do you feel ready? ‘Cause most of us are on the bubble--tryin’ to outrun the smoke and tryin’ to get one more good deed in before we die.”
Rock was also thinking of doing a bit about how, “I’d hate to be an Arab right now.” He would dress up in a red, white and blue Evel Knievel suit.
Rock made his name in part through routines about the stereotyping of fellow blacks--mocking racism, but also declaring his fear of young gangbanger types.
Hood tells him, “If it can happen to us, it can happen to you again.”
“Yeah,” says Rock, in his high-pitched squeak. “But we never blew up anything!”
Hood goes quiet. Does he need more reminders?
The club owner, Manny, breaks the silence.
“I think you can go back to the dynamite,” he says. “Give it two weeks and it’ll be funnier than ever.”
New York City
No More Home Delivery
He’s Mr. Fix-It, the captain of his ship, the guy who makes sure your Chinese food is taken to the right apartment. Like thousands of New York superintendents, Sham Hosein has spent years running large apartment buildings with a smile and minimal daily disruptions.
But now he’s learning his job all over again. “All of us who run buildings have to be on guard for the slightest thing that looks wrong,” says Hosein, 57, who is in charge of a deluxe Upper Westside condominium. “The World Trade Center disaster changed our whole world when it comes to security. I can’t take anything for granted now.”
Like the flood of packages that arrive in the mail and from delivery services every day. How can a superintendent know what’s inside them? How suspicious should he be of repairmen going in and out of the building? “We had a rumor the other day that a Verizon phone truck had been stolen, and people worried that terrorists might be involved,” Hosein says. “You wonder if something terrible will happen. Even so, what do you do?”
Most New Yorkers are too busy with work and family, too preoccupied with daily stresses to worry about everything that can go wrong in their building. They pay people like Hosein to think about leaky roofs, broken water boilers and air conditioners that die in August.
The World Trade Center may change all that. “People are going to have to be much more focused on what really goes on in their homes, what to do in a fire, things like that,” Hosein says. “We think about them a little. Now we’ll be thinking about them a lot more.”
After the terrorists struck, Hosein set off on foot to bring his teenage daughter home safely from her Greenwich Village school. As he made his way through the city, he got angry stares and shoves from people who looked at his dark complexion and concluded that he was Middle Eastern.
“It was so crazy,” says Hosein, who is from Trinidad. “You can’t give people trouble just because of how they look. It’s so very wrong.”
Hosein recently went to a meeting of other New York superintendents, and all were searching for ways to make their buildings safer. It’s a conversation that will go on in New York for months, maybe years. And nothing--not even cartons of Chinese food--will ever be the same.
“There are a lot of buildings in New York [that] just buzz delivery people in from the street when they say they’ve got a food delivery,” Hosein says. “I think, from now on, New Yorkers are going to have to go down to the street and pick up the food themselves. This is a change that’s coming.”
Boom Times in Corporate Security
By the evening, corporate executives were calling Gerald Brandt at home to make appointments for security assessments. Brandt, a principal at the security consulting firm Baker-Eubanks, and his staff of 14 are now working 12- to 16-hour days, including weekends, to keep up with requests for help.
A few weeks ago, Brandt, 58, often had trouble persuading executives to pay attention to the simplest security precautions. “I would hear things like, ‘Oh, we don’t want ID cards; we all know each other,’ ” he says. “Now, of course, they all want ID badges yesterday, plus smart cards with biometrics, video recognition software, anything we can do to increase safety.”
These days, Brandt spends less time selling his services. “It’s a process that used to take weeks because security wasn’t a very high priority for many boards of directors,” says Brandt, whose company also supplies clients with security personnel, mostly former law-enforcement professionals. “People who never considered having a security director on staff want one right now.”
New York City
Hiding From What He Didn’t See
Photographer Mark Phillips shies away from answering his phone. He won’t tell people where he lives. And though he shot what has become one of the most widely published pictures of the day, he’s afraid to develop the rest of his film.
It’s all because of The Picture. The photo--the first frame of hundreds he shot that Tuesday--shows a plume of black smoke rising from the towers after the second plane hit. But there’s something else. Just above the buildings’ roof line, people have noticed what seems to be a face in the smoke. It’s the visage of the devil, some insist, complete with beard and horns. Or Osama bin Laden. Or the collective scream of thousands of lost souls. Others swear it’s the face of God.
Phillips, who has been a professional photographer for 23 years, says he didn’t see the image that day--he just bang, bang, bang shot photos on two different cameras from the roof of his Brooklyn apartment and transmitted the pictures immediately to Associated Press. The picture editors didn’t see anything either when they moved the photos on the wire about a half-hour later. It wasn’t until people started calling in, asking if the photo was real, that they noticed the face.
Then the phone calls and e-mail started from people convinced that Phillips was the messenger of the devil, or somehow chosen by God. There were those who wanted to share their experiences of the day, or relate their own religious revelations. There were skeptics who wanted to discredit him, believers who wanted him to believe.
Phillips admits he was stunned when he finally saw the face. But he knows as well as anyone who has idly picked out images in the clouds that people who can discern the Virgin Mary in the burn marks on a tortilla can as easily find Armageddon in a column of smoke. “I’m not going to interpret it,” he says. “People see what they want to see, and it’s up to them to decide for themselves.”
In the first week, he received thousands of e-mails, and his Web site registered 2 million hits. He instructed his staff to tell anyone who came to the office that he was not there, fearing fanatics or pilgrims or those who just wanted to talk.
But the worst were the people who questioned his integrity, insisting that he had manipulated the photographs. “First of all, ethically, I would never doctor a photo,” Phillips says. “I have a 23-year reputation in this industry that I would never throw away. Secondly, there simply wouldn’t have been time to do it.”
Phillips has covered human tragedy before. In 1986, from the roadside at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he captured the Challenger space shuttle explosion. His perch was about three miles away from the space shuttle--about the same distance as his apartment roof from the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, he was close enough for singed scraps of stationery from the towers’ offices to drift across the harbor to his Brooklyn roof deck.”
Like everyone else who witnessed the surreal events, Phillips must deal with the shock, the grief of losing friends, and the terrible task of explaining it all to his daughter, who is not yet 3 years old. “I thought she was too young to understand. But we were watching the news, and suddenly she covered her eyes and said, ‘Daddy, I can’t see this.’ ”
The Picture just makes it worse. “I thought it was going to go away because America’s attention span is pretty short. But the way people are putting a religious aspect on this, it’s not going to go away soon. It’s a heavy burden to carry right now.”
New York City
Dreaming of Helping an Orphan
Sandra “Penny” Guzman rarely sleeps these days. But when she does, the 43-year-old single mother dreams about her future child.
She can’t become pregnant anymore. Time and menopause have taken her fertility. Her only son, Nicholas, 17, is nearly a man, intent on joining the Army. Perhaps having another child isn’t in God’s plan.
She watched the giant towers crumble from the U.S. Postal Service office where she has sorted mail for more than 20 years. She realized that friends and mailbox regulars had disappeared in a roiling cloud of dust. She knew there would be orphans.
Her dreams of new motherhood became more insistent.
How many lost parents? She didn’t know. Hundreds? Thousands? Enough to fill an entire school? There are more than she can imagine. From just the Wall Street bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald--which has lost nearly three-fourths of its New York office--there are at least 1,500 children who have lost a father, a mother, or both.
Right now, families throughout the region--and across the nation--are struggling to remake themselves, deal with custody issues and figure out a gentle way to tell their young wards that their parents are never going to come home.
Guzman wants to help, just as she did when she worked to raise two younger sisters in Brooklyn years ago. “I’m the big sister,” she says. “I’m the one that people come to lean on, to rely on. Now, I’m the one needing to find that place to lean on. I’m trying to find out my purpose.”
She approached her boyfriend. He agreed. She should do it. She talked to her church pastor. He’s beginning to look for families in need.
All Guzman knows is that she is meant to help a boy. He’s come to her in her dreams. A 12-year-old boy. Alone. Sometimes he’s crying. Sometimes he’s flinging a bomb at Guzman. Always she feels the pain and the loneliness.
“I need to find him,” she says. “I need to just talk to him, to tell him it’s going to be OK. I’ll make it OK.”
New York City
A Love Affair, Redefined
His brilliantly simple logo has become a cultural icon, so deeply embedded in the collective psyche that it borders on cliche. But now Milton Glaser has issued a new version of his “I NY” logo commissioned by the state of New York as a promotional tool in 1976. The new heart bears a black smudge, and the slogan has been expanded by three words: “more than ever.” Glaser says it reflects a new resolve to love his unwieldy, brash and now vulnerable hometown.
“The ‘more than ever’ was an important realization--in the same way that when somebody you love is injured, the intensity of your love for them increases,” says Glaser, 72, who has reason to take the attack personally. He designed the World Trade Center’s observation deck and the graphics--down to the dishes and decorative curtains--for the Windows on the World restaurant atop the north tower.
Glaser is a man of many talents. His graphic and architectural designs have brought him fame around the world, and in 1968, he and Clay Felker founded New York magazine, a journal that spawned imitations in cities across the country. Nothing in his imagination, however, prepared him for the blow of Sept. 11. It has forced him to reevaluate his life, and he foresees much of the nation doing the same.
“In the middle of the most extraordinary affluence, success and dominance that represents the empire-nation of America, we suddenly realize that we are vulnerable. And that things change. It’s a blow to one’s arrogance and invulnerability. . . . You make a decision to withdraw or go forward--but changed.
“I know I want to lead my life differently. I want to use a lot of my energy and impulses for serving the city, and serving the world. I want to spend less of my time, if I can figure out a way to do that, engaged in business as usual.”
That does not mean he will quit teaching design classes Wednesday nights at The Cooper Union art school, as he has for the last 40 years, or give up his weekends in the country. It does not mean refusing to come to work at the midtown office building he has owned since 1965. It means going deeper than changing a daily routine or surroundings.
“What I realized is that all this is a work of the imagination,” he says. “Through the imagination, 20 guys with box cutters could bring us to our knees.” Similarly, our response should not be “a technological one, not a governmental one, but of the imagination. There’s nothing stronger than the human imagination.”
Thus, Glaser is working on a response based on another glaring realization about a city that celebrates the abrupt and impersonal: In the end, all things are connected.
He calls it the “New York Special,” a grass-roots campaign aimed at pumping money back into the wounded city economy. The idea is that residents would be encouraged to dine out every Tuesday night, and that restaurants would contribute a percentage of every check to a relief or recovery fund. Retail stores also could offer Tuesday night specials, and performing arts groups could dedicate proceeds from Tuesday night shows.
And true to form, he’s already come up with a logo: the twin towers, in the shape of a T.
Motherhood Delayed, and Unexpected Questions
Like many, Lori Narvaez grew fearful when she heard the news of the attacks, but for reasons beyond the obvious ones. Narvaez, 39, was planning a trip to Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic in central Asia, to adopt a 16-month-old orphan named Dmitry.
Anticipating U.S. military action against Afghanistan, which is near Kazakhstan, Narvaez worried that she might lose the chance to bring Dmitry home. She knows the boy only through photos and videos, but she’s come to think of him as her son. “All the things I’d been worrying about regarding the trip--spending a month alone in a country where I don’t speak the language, the food, the cold weather, having to carry cash because they don’t use credit cards there--all that suddenly seems secondary.”
Now she’s anxious about the prospect of international air travel grinding to a halt, or the possibility that Kazakhstan might close its borders once hostilities erupted. Or that she and Dmitry might be trapped overseas. Beneath that, she shares the fear of all would-be parents seeking an international adoption--that a new roadblock will arise in the muddled path through two nations’ dissimilar laws and bureaucracies, derailing the adoption. “I keep telling myself to be prepared for whatever might happen, but in my heart, he’s the one,” she says. “It would be so sad if he came this close to being placed, to having a mom.”
Dmitry’s adoption stalled for a week while Narvaez’s agency checked whether the process could continue. “That was really a tough time,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of support from my family, which is really important because I’m going to be a single parent. For the first time, I started wondering, ‘Maybe this isn’t something I should be doing.’ ”
Even as her nerve faltered, she was buffeted by waves of sadness for the terrorists’ victims--and by guilt. “I was feeling really selfish, because the first thing I thought about was, ‘What’s going to happen with the adoption?’ And I would get really depressed. I’d think, ‘How can I raise a child in a world like this? I’m not strong enough.’ ”
Eventually Narvaez got word from the agency that, barring the unforeseen, the adoption was still on. She hopes to travel to Kazakhstan late this month. But she doesn’t know whether her traumatized country will greet a little boy from a foreign land with open arms, or will regard him with suspicion. “I really worry about the kids with Muslim names,” she says.
Still, her anxiety is tempered by a newfound resolve. “I feel really excited about Dmitry having a chance to become an American. I’m much more conscious about that than ever before.”
--Patrick J. Kiger
New York City
Unsure What to Do With a Second Chance
John Bernieri has had the chance to repeatedly say, “I love you,” to his wife and daughter, as well as “No big deal,” to friends and family members with whom he has quarreled. The opportunity has left him feeling almost cleansed, but also at a loss. “I’m guilty and I’m lucky and I’m all mixed up. What’s next? What do I do?”
On Sept. 11, Bernieri was awakened by a frantic pull on his leg. It was his mother--his mother! She’d driven across town to make sure he was alive. It was a mere five hours after the dining room captain at Windows on the World had returned from work, and his mother was telling him that his restaurant, as well as the rest of the north tower, had collapsed. Bernieri, still groggy, laughed.
“Go home, Ma. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Weeks later, the precise dimensions of his personal disaster have become brutally real. Eighty-one of his friends and colleagues--his “family”--are gone. “Now, I feel like I got an extension on my life, as if I were a Vietnam veteran.”
The images of the towers’ collapse, like the faces of his former co-workers, haunt Bernieri. “You keep thinking about being with all these people, you protected one another. You loved these people. You try to stay strong, then you cry, you think, ‘What if it was me?’ All the things I would have regretted never saying--I say them now, all the time.”
Because New York’s restaurant industry is struggling, Bernieri, 50, is contemplating a new career. “Maybe I could try acting,” he muses, half-jokingly. “That would be a turnaround: out-of-work waiter looking for an acting gig.”
He thinks about writing. He considers returning to school. He manages a smile. “I got a second chance, and, honestly, how you live with that is the challenge. I was saved for a reason. But as for what--who knows? I’m working on it.”
The Final Grounding of Midway Airlines
Jim Kubow watched the terror unfold on TV from his desk at Midway Airlines, where he was assistant chief pilot. He wasn’t scheduled to fly until the next day, on a route from North Carolina to Florida, but he couldn’t help imagining himself in the captain’s seat on one of those doomed flights.
“You rewind all the times that you let your guard down, let things become routine. I ask myself: ‘Could I have prevented this from happening? Would I really have noticed that something was wrong in time to prevent it?’ ”
The events did end up striking close to home. North Carolina-based Midway Airlines ceased operations 26 hours after the twin towers were struck.
“We were struggling with low load factors already, as was the rest of the industry,” says Kubow, 31. In August, when Kubow was promoted to his supervisory position, Midway laid off 183 pilots. The company had filed for bankruptcy protection a month before, and it had $50 million in debt coming due.
About 500 Midway pilots and 400 flight attendants lost their jobs. “By the end of the second day, I was coming out of my shock enough to realize I no longer had a job, but my troubles just didn’t seem all that important.”
Aware of Midway’s problems, Kubow had been sending out feelers for new job possibilities. He is now a first officer for United Express. He considers himself lucky to have earned a piloting job before mass layoffs rattled the industry.
“I will always think about the tragedy. But I think that it will make me more prepared to deal with whatever I have to face.”
IMAM SHUAIB TAJUDDIN
A Community Embraces Its Mosque
“Palestinians go home,” she screamed after scribbling “Murderers” on a wall outside Culver City’s King Fahad Mosque. “You killed 50,000 people. We’re going to burn you down.”
The mosque’s imam, Shuaib Tajuddin, says he was silent at first. “I didn’t know what to do.” He then decided to confront her rage.
“Look at me,” said Tajuddin, a native of Ghana in West Africa. “Do I look Palestinian to you?” Slowly the woman began to control her anger. She said she was sorry. She didn’t know. “I know someone from Ghana,” she said, and began sobbing.
She and Tajuddin began talking, and she repeatedly apologized and asked if she could clean the wall. A police car pulled up. Tajuddin told the officers he would not press charges, and mosque staffers cleaned the wall.
Palestinians attend the mosque, as do worshipers from Bosnia, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Eritrea, Iran, Kuwait, Turkey and other countries, says Tajuddin. “This mosque is a United Nations.”
Since the mosque opened in 1998, Culver City and nearby Westside communities have embraced it, Tajuddin says. He was fearful that this goodwill might evaporate after the attacks, but instead the community has rallied behind the mosque, says Tajuddin, 49. St. Augustine Church, a few blocks away, invited Tajuddin to do the homilies at some of its Masses. “Cousins,” a program aimed at improving relations between the mosque’s Muslim worshipers and the Jewish congregation at Culver City’s Temple Akiba, has become even more active. Culver City officials and residents have come to prayers. Phone calls and e-mails have been overwhelmingly supportive.
Shortly after the attacks, Tajuddin talked for nearly an hour with a Mormon teacher who “came to express her solidarity with Muslims.” A Jewish man married to a Latina showed up several days later. The man was crying, Tajuddin says, saddened by the hatred he felt. But they talked and talked. Now when the man gives directions to his home, the imam says, he no longer uses two gun shops on Washington as landmarks. “He tells them to turn at the beautiful mosque.”
--Edward J. Boyer
A Scholar Suddenly in the Spotlight
In his nationally televised Sept. 20 address to a joint session of Congress, President Bush surprised critics with a deftly nuanced treatise on Islam, one that depicted Osama bin Laden and the Taliban not just as extremists, but as heretics who could be attacked without making an enemy of Islam’s moderate mainstream. “The terrorists are traitors to their own faith--trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself,” was one of Bush’s most memorable lines.
The secret behind the line’s eloquence is that it was borrowed from the writings of Cleveland State University law school professor David Forte. Once an obscure scholar of Islamic law, Forte has found himself abruptly elevated to a position of influence. The soft-spoken professor and author of the 1999 book “Studies in Islamic Law: Classical and Contemporary Applications” has become a sought-after guest on network news programs.
In the mid-1990s, Forte had begun pondering the question of how the extreme interpretation of Islam favored by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments could be reconciled with the moderate mainstream. “People think of Islamic fundamentalists, but I noticed there was a different category--extremists who seemed to be much more politicized, quasi-Marxist in their thinking. I recalled that in early Islamic history, there was a sect that Islam had to fight.” He began drawing parallels between modern-day terrorists and the Kharijites, who came along several decades after the death of Muhammad. They advocated the execution of all Muslim sinners. “You can see that in these guys who attacked the World Trade Center. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a guy who went to bars and strip clubs down in Florida isn’t a good Muslim. And the intentional killing of civilians isn’t permitted under Islamic law. So whatever these guys are fighting for, it isn’t classical Islam.”
Forte was flattered that his ideas ended up in Bush’s speech, but “my writing simply validated ideas that reasonable men could have come to on their own,” he says.
--Patrick J. Kiger
Basking Ridge, N.J.
Raising the Child of a Father Now Gone
In the nursery that Craig Staub helped design, the walls are yellow and trimmed with a paper pattern of sheep, stars and wooden blocks. He wanted the room to have a neutral color, not pink or blue, so it could serve all the children he and his wife, Stacey, would have.
Their first, Juliette Craig W. Staub, arrived on Sept. 22--6 pounds, 14 ounces with brown hair and blue eyes like her father’s. A balloon attached to the mailbox outside announces her arrival. On the front door, though, hangs one of those now familiar posters, a notice that Craig is missing from the World Trade Center investment bank where he worked.
In the delivery room, when the nurses told Stacey to focus on something, she asked her family to put Craig’s pictures everywhere. Four days after giving birth, Stacey, an art director, is wearing black sweat pants and a white T-shirt with her wedding picture on it. In the picture, snapped 15 months and a million years ago, her husband appears tall and fair-haired. She’s not yet adjusted to the idea of being a widow at 31, because “no one has told me that I can [grieve].”
Stacey is crying softly. “Craig built this house for me. This is where he wants us to be,” she says. “I’m going to have to fill it with a lot of Mommy’s love, and a lot of Daddy’s love in different ways.”
The house will have many albums of photographs of Craig, and videotaped home movies, and Stacey has made Craig’s old friends promise to stay close so they can tell Juliette stories about her dad. There will be one hope chest about Craig’s life, and one about the day he perished “so she understands one day why Daddy isn’t here and how many people loved him and looked for him.”
Taking out the trash and changing the cat litter--Craig’s chores--tear at Stacey’s soul. For nearly seven years, the couple had a living room tradition, “Sunday Night at the Movies with Stacey and Craig.” She hasn’t rented a video since. But more than anything, she dreads the questions to come.
“I’m going to have to describe Craig to her,” Stacey says. “She’s not going to be able to see with her own eyes what an incredibly charming, handsome, brilliant man he was. She’ll see videos. But she’ll never have that hug. She’ll never have that kiss.”
Before, the worst part of Stacey’s wonderful life used to be The Dream. Every month or two in the nightmare, Craig left her. She would wake up and there he would be, doting on her. She had The Dream again yesterday for the first time since. This time, the worst part was when she woke up.
Juliette entered this changed world on the day her father would have turned 31, and Stacey is happy about the coincidence. “Every year on his birthday,” she says, “it won’t be such a sad day.”
Feeling Suspect on the Sidelines
Samir Shaban was doing what he normally does with his evenings and weekends--coaching a youth soccer team in Ashburn, a suburb of Washington, D.C.--when he noticed a man on the sidelines in combat fatigues and boots. He couldn’t stop himself from thinking: Is he here to arrest me?
It turned out the soldier was just another soccer dad, but that didn’t do much to put Shaban at ease. A U.S. resident for 20 years, Shaban is a senior scientist at the National Cancer Institute. He’s a homeowner. He’s a married father of four kids who play ball and love hot dogs. But he’s also a Muslim of Lebanese ancestry.
“I’m an American citizen--I have a passport, everything,” he says. “I work for the government. But I’m still afraid.”
Shaban’s fears might seem irrational to someone who isn’t an American Muslim, who doesn’t have a name that people struggle to pronounce, who doesn’t have to worry about his brother-in-law, Abdullah Yassine, a Lebanese immigrant who was arrested three days after the attacks--handcuffed and hauled away, in front of his terrified family, by an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent.
“The agent said he’d be back in an hour,” Shaban says. “But he never came back. Instead, [Yassine] was moved around to several different jails. We had a hard time finding him. Finally, we did, and I went down to see him. They had him shackled, in a jumpsuit, no underwear, like he was the worst criminal in the world.”
The brother-in-law’s crime: in addition to working for the employer listed on his work visa, he was moonlighting for a contractor at Dulles International Airport, watching a baggage claim area for $6 an hour.
“He’s got five kids to support, and he needed some extra money,” Shaban says. “It was a technical violation of the rules, [and] the immigration officer told us that normally it wouldn’t be a big deal. They’d send you a notice to appear, something like that.”
Instead, Shaban’s brother-in-law was swept up in the federal dragnet to catch members of Osama bin Laden’s network. During the two weeks that Yassine was held in various Virginia jails, the FBI--at whose behest the INS had held scores of immigrants on such violations--never even got around to questioning him, according to his lawyer, Denyse Sabagh.
Finally, this month, an immigration judge freed Yassine on $2,500 bail; he faces a future court date, on a charge of violating his visa status.
Shaban fears a bigger backlash against Muslims, so he is staying away from airports and even asked his children if they wanted to change their names. (They declined.) He believes most Americans don’t prejudge Muslims, and figures a few national security higher-ups are overreaching to cover their lack of vigilance.
“I thought we learned from the Japanese internment during World War II,” he says. “We ended up having to pay them reparations. I wish I could say to the people in charge, ‘Now you’re doing the same damn thing.’ ”
--Patrick J. Kiger
Stony Creek Township, Pa.
An Unknown Victim of United Flight 93
Barry Hoover was working at his lumberyard when an urgent call from a friend sent him racing 10 miles to his house in Stony Creek Township, which sits on a sloping hillside in the green folds of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountains.
The friend had heard from another friend, who had been listening to police calls on a scanner, that a plane had gone down on Hoover’s property. Hoover, 34, assumed it was a small private aircraft. But “there were a lot of police, fire trucks, EMTs, groups of bystanders,” he says, “so I knew something big had happened. When I got closer to my house, I saw papers strewn everywhere, letters, envelopes, pages from magazines. There were small pieces of wire all over, broken pieces of plastic, just a lot of small bits of fragmented debris.”
Disoriented, Hoover did not guess that the scorched debris littering his lawn was all that remained of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which had crashed into a hillside just a few hundred yards from his cottage. The 757’s tremendous impact caused blast waves to travel through the air and the ground. “They told me that when a blast like this occurs, it just lifts everything straight up, and sets it back down again,” Hoover says. “All of the windows were blown out. My garage doors were blown off.”
His first impulse was to search for Woody, his cat. When Hoover stepped inside the house, he saw shattered glass everywhere and daylight streaming through holes in the metal roof. Fieldstone tiles had been ripped off the floor, and ceiling tiles were missing. “My furniture was tossed around, my clothes were all over,” he says.
Woody was nowhere to be found, and investigators ordered Hoover off the crash site. Since then, he has been living at a local hotel, and more recently with friends. Experts have since told him the cottage is damaged beyond repair and should be torn down. He is sickened that the terrorists’ hatred could touch him so personally. But, he says, “I lost a house, [others] lost their lives. My loss is nothing compared to theirs.”
Twelve days after the crash, Hoover was allowed to go home and gather some belongings. He found Woody, thoroughly spooked but otherwise unscathed, and plucked him from the chaos.
A Suddenly Single Father
When John Beug married his wife eight years ago at age 45, the entertainment industry executive eagerly accepted his new role as stepfather to her three kids--twin teenage daughters and a son. That commitment took on new urgency when the plane carrying both his wife and her mother was hijacked and crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
“The agreement when I married Carolyn was that I wasn’t just marrying her, I was marrying four people, because that’s how she viewed it. I’m holding true to that,” says Beug, a senior vice president at Warner Bros. Records. “I can’t fill her shoes, but I’m going to do everything in my power to keep her spirit and legacy going.”
Carolyn Beug, 48, an award-winning filmmaker and video producer, had flown to the East Coast, accompanied by her mother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom, 75, to settle her 18-year-old daughters, Lindsey and Lauren, into their freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design. Coming home, she and her mother were aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to strike the World Trade Center. Her son, 13-year-old Nicky, had stayed home with Beug.
Beug says he had just flipped on the TV when he saw the second plane careen into the south tower. “I got a terrible feeling that I cannot express, and as the minutes clicked forward it got worse,” Beug says. “I called back East and had a friend go pick up the girls. As soon as they said it was a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, I knew the odds were she was on it.”
Beug says he will visit New York at some point, but he is focused on deciding the best way to memorialize his wife at home. “This is a tragic event of biblical proportions,” he says. “But right now, it’s about what happened to us. She’s not going to walk through that door.”
A Flight Attendant’s Grief
The first time Nancy Moylan wanted to be a flight attendant, the job was called “stewardess” and she was fresh from college. It was 1969. On a whim, she and a girlfriend applied to American Airlines. They were accepted.
“It was quite a coup to get that job,” she recalls. “Stewardesses were glamorous. It was considered a party scene and, of course, it was exciting to travel.”
But her traditional Irish-Catholic parents thought it would be the “equivalent of walking the streets of New York.” At age 20, Moylan respected her parents’ opinions, and, she admits, their bribe of a Mustang convertible made it easier to pass up the job.
The second time around was different. Almost three decades after turning down American, Moylan found herself facing the same choice. She had begun working part time at Logan Airport in American’s VIP lounge. She noticed that the flight attendants were no longer all young and thin and unmarried. “You could be old and fat and ugly as long as you were nice,” she jokes. “So I thought: Why not?”
With a grown daughter and a son in high school, Moylan suited up and reported for duty three years ago--regularly filling in on the transcontinental morning flight from Logan to Los Angeles. And so it was with special dread that she watched the “Today Show” as it covered the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 while it was en route to Los Angeles.
Moylan rushed to her computer to check the flight manifest, only to find that American had already blocked the crew names from review. The Boston-based flight staff had just 1,000 members. It was a big family.
Then came the realization that it could have been her: She might have been working that flight had she not gone on medical leave two weeks earlier. “It’s like an out-of-body experience. Do you feel lucky that you got pneumonia? Today it’s almost surreal, almost like it’s not really happening,” she said the day after the attacks.
The names of the crew members--once released--provoked gasps. She knew them all. And she knew pilot John Ogonowsky’s wife, Margaret, an American Airlines flight attendant who had not been on the flight, and their three daughters.
Moylan wondered if she’d ever be able to fly again, but the question was pushed aside as she tried to deal with the loss of her co-workers. For a while it felt as if all she did was attend funerals. As she printed out directions to services, and page after page rolled off, she wondered, “How can you have six pages of directions to memorial services? How could you know 11 people who all died in one day?”
With each service, though, she got a little stronger. “Hearing from these families all these funny stories and these tributes,” she said. “As time goes on they become more personal, it’s not so much that horrible first grief. They feel more like celebrations of the life.”
As the shock subsides, she has begun worrying about the future of American Airlines, a company she has grown to love. She had planned to work for American until retirement. She had planned to fly the airline--exploring the world--for the rest of her life. She is now waiting to hear about layoffs, and whether her services will be needed in the future. Will she be able to fly? She says she won’t know until she’s called to work, and has to board a plane again.
For now, Moylan says she has taken inspiration in a vow made by Ogonowsky’s widow. “She told us: ‘Someday you’ll probably see me back there. It could be years, but don’t be surprised if you see me back flying.’ ”
New York City
Building With a ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ in Mind
From his seventh-floor office suite at 6th Avenue and 20th Street, Richard Tomasetti faces north toward the Empire State Building. The view is more than a postcard moment, for skyscrapers are his business. And although the building community has had a wake-up call, businesses, he says, will continue, he says.
“We, as an industry, will be less naive, more concerned with the security. We have to be cognizant of this kind of threat as we go forward and design bu
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