Monday, June 30, 2008

102 Minutes

If you're anything like me, you are completely obsessed on learning anything and everything that involves September 11, 2001. Being that it was just one month short of my thirtieth birthday, I was old enough to remember every single minute of that day.

A friend gave me 102 Minutes and told me to be prepared. It wasn't easy reading, but still highly informative. I took it home on a rare Friday where I had no plans, sat on my porch and got started. Perhaps a record for me, I had the book finished by Sunday afternoon, less than two days later. I couldn't stop reading and learning more and more of that horrific day.

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers is put together by two authors, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, who pieced together transcripts, phone calls and emails to get a clearer picture of what happened to the people trapped in the towers. Having heard the brave voices of these people brought a newer truth to the events of the day that I didn't fully comprehend before. I don't think I knew that everyone trapped about the crash zones died. I also now have a better understanding of why the firemen didn't just STOP and turn around instead of continuing up all those flights of stairs. (They were told the buildings would withstand fire for at least 3-4 hours.) Another fact that I had trouble grasping was how could jumping 90+ stories possibly be the best solution?? Obviously there is no way to survive that drop, and even people on the ground were killed by falling bodies. But some people were struggling so hard to breathe with others pushing behind them that they simply fell out of the broken windows. Others had to escape over 1,000° temperatures, so obviously falling was a less painful choice.

The authors also point out many design flaws and shortcuts made when building the towers. While I learned of the smaller stairwells, other shortcuts and a grim comparison to the Titanic (the buildings were built to be "unsinkable"), I feel that we can only move forward in future construction and not dwell on what now cannot be changed.

I don't think that as Americans we should bury our heads in the sand and not continue to learn more and more about these tragic events. I fear that as time passes the pain of that day lessens for the people who weren't there or aren't constantly reminded of it, and that is wrong. I plan to keep September 11, 2001 top-of-mind and never, ever forget.