Tuesday, October 03, 2006

September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006 The 5th Anniversary. I woke up at 3 AM as I knew I wanted to get to Ground Zero early because I had told Les that I wanted to hold down our spot at Church & Fulton Sts because I thought there would be a lot of people there as it was the 5th Anniversary of 9/11. I was quite wrong. There weren't as many people as I thought, eventually. It looked like a normal day to me in Manhattan. But I got to GZ around 430 AM. I wanted to check out what the PD and the Secret Service was doing on how they were setting up barricades and blockades since President Bush was supposed to come there. But he crossed me up and had come down the day before when everybody went down and protested him then. The press was already there. Many of the trucks were all lined up along Church St and a whole bunch of cameras and reporters were herded into a small corral at Vesey St and were getting ready for the early shows. I had intended to walk around the outside of GZ, which I had never done, and try to visit the memorial wall at the firehouse of Engine 10 on Liberty St. They had taken down the regular signs that they usually had up on along the fence line and put up paintings dedicated to the people and the first responders of 9/11/2001. One of them was for the firefighters, which was near Vesey St. That one will come into play later. I walked along Church St and looked at many of the paintings and many of them had flowers stuck into the fence along the way and there was one person's face pictured all along the way down to Liberty St.

Once I got to Liberty St, the police officer would not allow me to walk down the street. I told him I wanted to walk around the outside of GZ. He said no one could do it now. Not until later. If I could have done so, I would have found the firehouse and this next incident never would have happened. I should have asked him where the firehouse was and it never would have happened. So instead of making that right, I turned left on Liberty St, in search of the firehouse to look at the memorial wall. I came to the intersection and waited for the light to change. When it did I walked across the street. The next thing I know, I'm on the ground, soaking wet. I had slipped on a patch of ice, which had rotten fruit in it. A patch of ice in September? It was like someone had dumped a bunch of fruit on the ground and the ice had frozen right there on the street. How it froze I'll never know because at that time it was not that cold. Well my entire left side was soaked from my left shoulder to my shoes and I skinned my right knee. I was covered in this slushy gunk with pieces of fruit in it. I found later on that I had a small crack in my cane as well. Now I had to recover all the stuff I was carrying which had scattered all over the street. Fortunately a nice young lady was there to help me. My signs escaped damage but my magazine and some papers got wet. My one soda bottle cracked in the bag and that's how they got wet, not from the ice like me. Now it seemed like the temperature had dropped. I was a little colder. Now what was I going to do. I had decided to go back to my hotel to change. But I had checked out but they were holding my luggage. Then I would have to change in a bathroom. The place I was staying in was one step up from a hostel and I wasn't sure if they would let me take a shower or even just change my clothes. And then I thought that it would probably take me at least 3 hours to do that. What to do…

I started to walk over Church St back to the subway station to go back to my hotel when I found a 24-hour deli. I bought a big bottle of water and a roll of paper towels and decided to take and impromptu "shower" at the corner of Church & Chambers Sts near the subway steps. So the flower guy and I had a conversation while I cleaned off the fruit and the slush off my clothes and shoes. I took off my shirt and hung it on the subway railing while I dried myself off as best I could and dried my shorts as best I could. So the flower guy and I struck up a fine conversation even though I don't think we really understood each other too much but I think he knew what had happened to me after I basically reenacted what happened to me. While I'm taking my "shower," it seemed like it was getting colder. But I shook it off as the water and the ice. But then again I was starting to expel visible breath. I thought, "Yeah, here we go. I'm gonna get pneumonia for sure!" So for his troubles, I bought a nice bunch of flowers from the guy. While I was cleaning up, I could see that painting of the firefighters in my mind.

After I was done cleaning up, I took off back to GZ. I had decided to take that bunch of flowers and put it into the fence next to the painting for the firefighters and take the sign I had made up that said "For the 343…ny911truth.org pa911visibility.com" and put it next to it. Coincidentally, that painting was right in front of the press corral. In my madness, I thought for sure that the press had to see what I was doing and they would have to film it and maybe interview me. I had my Investigate 9/11 t-shirt on. I at least wanted them to shoot the sign because it had the 2 websites on it. That was more important; more than the interview. That would have been good but I was really hoping for the video of the sign more. I got to the painting and found I was having a hard time trying to tie the sign and the flowers to the fence. I could get the flowers into the fence but the sign was coming up short. But then I knew I had to tie to up an odd way and figured it out but I would need help. Fortunately again a nice lady was there to help me. I thought I heard the press behind me talking about it but not one of them came near me to talk to me or film me up close. After I was done, I stepped back and "admired" it for a few minutes and still no one came to ask me any questions. So I just went over to Fulton St and stood at our spot where we normally hold our outreaches on Saturdays. As I stood there, it seemed to be rather nice. There was no wind. It was a little chilly but nothing I couldn't handle. I had no jacket on but was in my Investigate 9/11 t-shirt and shorts. BUT, in a few short minutes, the wind came up and it changed from a nice warm day to Antarctica. I was freezing. And being still wet from the slush didn't help. But I endured.

While I was standing there, Con Edison held a short ceremony for the men that they lost on that day. It was short and sweet. They recited a few writings and poems and had someone sing a song and blow taps.

One by one, people started showing up. A guy from Las Vegas and another guy, I forget from where he was from and we started talking. More and more people started coming. One guy told us that we were supposed to meet at the park on Liberty St. I didn't know about that. I thought that we were meeting here as I had told Les and a lot of other people that I was going to get here early and sit on our usual spot. As the group got bigger, the provocateurs began to show up. An ex-firefighter started in on one of us and then on me. I told him that I was there for him today. I told him about the flowers and the sign that I had tied to the fence. I told him that I was an ex-fire dispatcher for the FDNY in New York. But he continued to scream and yell at us. He called us vile names and cursed at us. At one point he even said that he wished that we were in the towers when they collapsed. I went back at him and told him again that I was here for him today and we were here for the truth. At that point one of our group tells me that we were not supposed to start any confrontations and that we should walk away. That's when I said that I wasn't starting anything, I was just talking to him and I wasn't leaving because I was holding down our spot. I then said that he was trying to start the confrontation as the provocateur and that he was doing exactly what he wanted by breaking us up. I said that we should stay together as a group and not split up. Well, this guy from our group decides to break us up and he took quite a lot of the large group that had formed, much to my dismay, away to another section of ground Zero.

At this point after the conversation with the firefighter, a young female reporter from the Philippines asked me if she could interview me. This would be my first on camera interview. I was quite nervous because I was afraid that I would stutter. I have been a stutterer all my life and when I get nervous I tend to lock up and stutter sometimes. But I did better than I thought. I just answered her questions as best I could and we went on for what seemed a long time for me. I gave her my email address. She said she was based in Philadelphia, my hometown and that she would get back to me. Unfortunately, she has not done so at this time so I don't know if I will ever see that interview. At that point, Harvey Newman came by and told me that we were supposed to meet at the park. I didn't know about, like I said earlier, since I had left the Cooper Union early the night before when it was announced to meet at the park. I would have liked a phone call or something to tell me this. I wasn't aware that the guys from Loose Change or Alex Jones were in charge of the New York events. But I eventually understood the reasoning for meeting in the park but not for the reason that we did meet there but for a totally different reason that I will get to.

So we all left GZ and proceeded over the park where several hundred people were already there. Alex Jones and the Loose Change guys were rallying the troops and they were getting ready to hand out the DVDs and t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. I wasn't into doing that. After what had happened last night with Jason and Dylan, I was not going to help them. So I just walked around and talked with the people I knew. I met up with my fellow PA911visibility group members Wendi and Jon and talked with them for a while. I met up with my new friend Joseph from San Francisco. I spoke with a few more of the group and then it came time for the reading of the names and the ceremonies to start.

They started to ring a series of bells that were lined up along Liberty St near the park where we were all standing. They alternated between these bells and the bells on the fire trucks that were also lined up. I thought that maybe I would go a little crazy hearing these bells all day long. My friend from Tampa FL, Mia Hamel eased my mind a bit about the bells. She is a good person to talk to sometimes. Sometimes she's tough to listen to but sometimes she is a soother. She told me to just not to worry about it and think about being with our friends here in the park. Good advice. As the time passed, they became just another sound during the day. The cars and trucks going by, the people talking and in the background you heard all day the names being announced over the PA plus the bells. Then all of a sudden, the nice tone of the bells that was being rung by the firefighters and the religious brothers was changed to an obnoxious clanging. There was a guy, not a firefighter, just an ordinary person from the street ringing the bell. He was ringing that bell like it was his last day on earth. And we were no more than about 20 feet from it. WOW!!! They had started to allow people on the street to ring the bells after all the moments of silence were done from when the planes hit the towers, the Pentagon and in Shanksville.

After a few people took their turns, I turned to Mia and I said, "Do you think the firefighter will let me ring the bell with this t-shirt on?" She said, "Why not? Go ahead. I'll take a picture and we'll spread it around." So I took my turn. It looked like they were only letting people ring it a few times. One guy rang it about 10 times. But I had something in mind. I rang it 5 times and paused, 5 times and paused and I think he was going to stop me after 10 but I rang it 5 more times and stopped. I then think he knew what I was doing. I said to him, "3 fives, right?" He said, "That's right." You see, like I've said before I am an ex-dispatcher for the FDNY and also for the Philadelphia Fire Depts. So I knew that 5-5-5 on the station bells is what you ring for a death of a firefighter on duty. It's called Calling a Firefighter Home by some cities. After that I came back to him and told him that I was dispatcher 293 from the FDNY and shook his hand. He smiled but I don't think he was too thrilled about the shirt. Mia had taken a few pictures. I will try to upload them to the blog if I can. They are a little large and I am not that well versed on how to make them smaller. I will try though.

I was getting quite tired from all the standing. I have diabetic neuropathy in my feet. It is a constant stinging and pressure pain in my feet. I take 3 medications just to take away the pain and all it does is just dull the pain. And standing doesn't do it any good. So I sat down for a while and read my Global Outlook for a while. Then they were calling for a silent march to Ground Zero. I was also under the impression that we weren't going to do that as well because we weren't going to go to Ground Zero with any banners or signs, at least that's what I had heard at some of the planning meetings I attended. (And I had even brought signs myself, DUH) Of course I did not go to them all but that is what I had heard and read. But I was wrong. We held a silent march to GZ with a police escort. I did not carry my other sign as it was not appropriate for this march. It was aimed at Bush who wasn't even there. Many people had their video cameras out so we were covered. Rodney Lewis and I walked from the front of the line all the way to the back of the very long line as he videoed the entire line. I then decided that I had been doing too much standing and walking so I went back up to the front of the line and would walk from there. We walked up to Fulton St and turned around and walked back. A lot of the way during the march was camouflaged by a row of buses. I walked by myself, thinking about what had happened on 9/11. About that I was getting ready for my gastric bypass surgery, weighing 412 pounds and that I was supposed to be getting my mind ready for the fact that I might die on the table and here I was sitting like a zombie in front of the TV, hoping that some of those 343 firefighters would be pulled out of that rubble. When we got to the turn, I was hoping I could see if my sign and flowers were still on the fence. I thought maybe someone from the opposition would pull down my sign since it had ny911truth.org and pa911visibility.com on my "For the 343…" on it already. Nope, it was still hanging proudly with the flowers next to the painting. At GZ, there was someone holding a big red banner. At the time I thought it was another truth group that had bad mouthed our New York group for not being at Ground Zero the years before. But when I saw the banner and during the march, and after remembering the firefighter confrontation in the morning, I realized why we met at the park, maybe not for what Loose Change and Alex Jones wanted but for what Les Jamieson probably wanted and why they had done it for in years past. GZ is a burial ground and on 9/11, it's a burial ground and should be treated as such. That is what we had said all along that it was to be treated as such. No chanting, no shouting, no banners, no outreaching, no nothing during the ceremonies. Now I understood. So whoever (I didn't know at the time that he was one of us) didn't get the word or it didn't sink in. But when I found out who it was, he was going to do it anyway. And it caused a problem later on. And that was why we weren't supposed to be there like that which is why the banners and some of the signs in the march, I feel were inappropriate, even though we weren't technically at Ground Zero. But it wasn't my place to say.

After the march, I hooked up with my friend Dan Nalven. We've become pretty good friends since we first met my first day at Ground Zero. We walked around and spoke to a few people. He introduced me officially to Jack Gordon who I actually knew by face and name through the Blogger Brigade but never put the two together. We spoke for quite a while and spoke with passers by. It was into outreach mode for a while. We didn't have much literature though to hand out. That was tough. It would have been nice but you can't have literature there as well as DVDs and t-shirts. (Sarcastically) After that Dan and I decided to head to Burger King for a bite to eat. The worst thing was getting upstairs to eat with the brace on my knee and my cane, it is tough for me to navigate steps. But I endured and up we went. It felt good to relax and talk with Dan. We can talk to each other. Exchange good ideas and what we felt went well and what went wrong today. I told him about this morning and that I looked like a mildewed fruit basket and the interview, the firefighter and the small problem with the group member that broke up our group of black shirted members. The march, the DVDs, no literature, the bullhorn (That comes later). They had the people calling out the names on their TV sets upstairs in the Burger King. We stayed upstairs for quite a while as it felt quite good just to sit and relax as I had been standing and walking with only a short respite of sitting for only a few minutes since 330 AM and it was around noon. We both agreed that we were tired and were done with Alex Jones and Loose Change and were going back to St Mark's to help with the food preparation. We would miss the march to Eliot Spitzer's office and to 1 Police Plaza.

When we left we came down to the street when we were confronted by 4 gentlemen, one of whom pointed at me and said, "What does that shirt mean?" I said to him that we wanted to find the real truth about what happened on 9/11 and that we wanted a new independent investigation to answer the many unanswered questions and omissions from the original Kean 9/11 Commission. Dan talked with 2 of the other 3 and I was with the gentleman that pointed at me. It seems that the 4 were brothers that all had lost brothers on 9/11/2001. But to their credit, they did not yell at us like many others do, they talked to us, listened to us and tried to understand. But for the first time, they asked me if I thought that President Clinton was responsible for 9/11. I said that for the first time in the 4 months that I have been coming to GZ for outreaches, that he was the first person to ask me that and that it was pretty funny that it was the day after the first chapter of the ABC show The Path to 9/11. So I said to him that I had never seen in my research anything about President Clinton being responsible and that I would look into it since it has been brought out all of a sudden. But I said to him that at this point, I had seen no evidence that President Clinton had anything to do with what had happened that day. The six of us continued to talk for quite a while. I was quite impressed with the 4 men as they did not once act like they were angry with the two of us at all. They shook our hands when they left and thanked us for the conversation. I even think they were even looking to try and get one of our t-shirts. Dan had brought up the point that Condoleezza Rice had made the statement that "How could we know that they would use planes as weapons?" and Dan used the point that the Japanese did it as kamikaze pilots during World War 2. They understood that. I used my usual about the 425,000 cubic yards of concrete turning to dust and the perfectly sliced center steel cores by controlled demolition. So we were quite impressed that these 4 gentlemen who had lost brothers that day were really interested in listening to us; more than a lot of people that probably had nothing to do with anything that day other than that they are robots to the propaganda that's spun to the them by the mainstream media from the Bush administration.

We walked towards GZ to head back to St Mark's when a group of the people in the park were walking down Liberty St saying that some big shot (I again forget who it was. That's what I get for not doing this sooner) was doing a press conference at some building there. So we walked down and it turned out that he was already gone. So while we walked back, Dan knows that a couple of our New York members, Janette MacKinlay & Jim Lecce live in an apartment there and as we walked back up the slight hill that Liberty St is, Janette was looking out her window watching the show that the day was. We waved up at her and she spotted Dan and she waved us up. So I got to see the hole from up high for the first time. Actually, it's no big deal. It's a hole. But it's just the idea that it's, the hole. And I got to see Janette's scrapbook of how her apartment looked before, during and after 9/11. To be in an apartment that close to the towers and up that high, to see down on the site was stirring to me. It hit me for a moment. I have a minor vertigo problem so I had to stand a little bit back from the window because it was open without a screen and I always have this weird notion that I will lose my glasses out an open window. Weird, I know! But just seeing the vast amount of openness on the acreage of devastation across the street from her brought back those memories for an instant. So we had a short talk about the day's events and then we were joined by Gabriel Day. After some more rousing discussion of the day and the movement, Dan and I headed out to go to St Mark's.

We went out the back of their building so we went to see the Firefighter's Memorial Wall on the side of Engine 10, which was right there. That is where I was trying to get to in the morning when I fell when the policeman wouldn't let me go down Liberty St in the morning. Once again I had to stop and reflect. I had seen this on the FX network TV show Rescue Me that is about the FDNY firefighters so I know I had to come and see it for myself. After that, we headed for the subway station. We could hear from there a large amount of voices in the distance coming from the area around the PATH station at Fulton St. The closer we got, the better you could hear, "9/11 was an inside job." By the time we got there, Alex Jones was standing across the street by the cemetery yelling into the bullhorn I mentioned a while back. While we were watching a little bit, a little problem arose in the area. A minor confrontation between several people arose and they had to be separated. Dan and I got out of there. We weren't in the mood for confrontations. So we walked to the subway station to catch the 6 train to Astor Place to St Mark's. I used to live in New York when I was the fire dispatcher but I had never ridden the subway. So now that I spend more time in Manhattan I am getting a little more acclimated to the different routs. Plus some research that Les had me do has helped me a little bit. I'm not well versed on the buses yet as my little mishap on Sunday getting on the right bus in the wrong direction getting back to my hotel. But I'm getting better with the subway routes. We got off the train and hoofed it the rest of the way to the church. And since it has taken me so long to finish my blog on 9/11, I have forgotten the lady's name that was there already starting to cook. (I'm so sorry I forgot your name.) So we asked what we could do. Dan promptly went to work doing some heavier work as I can't do that kind of thing with my disability. So I asked to be put to work in the kitchen. I washed a few dishes and vases for the table until the other lady that does the main cooking came (I must apologize again as I do not remember her name as well. I am so bad anymore remembering names of people I do not see that often.) When she got there, she divided up the jobs and I got to cut up the chickens onto platters. That was a very long chore to do. And I do mean long as I had to do 2 different kinds. And then we fixed up some more meat platters while the truthers slowly started to arrive. They were all eating and listening to speakers while we were fixing up the chow in the back. I felt good staying in the kitchen. Like I said about staying at the door Sunday night while the others were on stage, I am new to the New York group and I'm not into this for any praise or recognition. I think there are several people that are in it for the recognition and want their faces on TV and video and even when they called the kitchen help out for a round of applause, I stayed in the back cleaning up.

I came out front to listen to some of the people who were talking after I was done cleaning up a bit. I was really getting quite tired and I had to go back to my hotel yet and get my luggage and take the train home and still had to drive from the train station home. I also had to walk from St Mark's to the hotel and from the hotel to Union Square so I knew I was in for a long night still and I had been standing on my feet for quite a long time as it was so I had to leave. I made my peace with a few people that were available. I had to say good-bye to the people that I would not see for a while. Mia Hamel got a hug. I thanked her for all her conversation at the door on Sunday night and at the park that day and to good-bye to Gabriel Day and Eric Williams from Boston who was right there as well. I said goodbye to Joseph from San Francisco who I'd probably not see again. And I said goodbye to whomever was nearby from the group and whoever was near that I knew. I called my wife and told her I was on the way home. So like I said I walked to my hotel, which really wasn't that far from the church. They let me change my clothes from the fruit and slush stained clothes I was wearing to the extra t-shirt I had happened to bring and a pair of jeans I had brought in case the weather had turned cold, which it really ha that morning. So I was a little more comfortable for the walk to Union Square, the subway and walk to Penn Station and the ride to Trenton and my drive back to my house in Blackwood NJ.

What did I get out the weekend? I now know that we should never dishonor the ground on 9/11. I agree with most people that for one day out of the year we should stay away. Let it rest for ONE day. Go to the park. Use the bullhorn there. There were enough people passing through that park that we could have passed out literature and did outreaches instead of standing around like we did most of the day. Shouting at Ground Zero on 9/11 is, in my opinion (Don't get all bent out of shape now) wrong. On Saturdays when I go up to New York, I enjoy what I do. When the people yell at me or curse at me and tell me to Get a Life or Go to Hell or Do Things to Myself, it doesn't bother me but when I see the Google Videos of what happened that day at Ground Zero itself and what had happened to me with that firefighter that morning after I was told we were supposed to meet in the park, I had wished I had gone right to the park so I didn't have to have had that problem with him now. And I wouldn't have had that on camera interview either. So what. I also found out that some people need to step back and learn where they started. Just because they did a movie doesn't mean they can act like immature little boys. People bow down to them like they are gods and it has gone to their heads and they take it out on others that don't jump when they snap their fingers. And I'm not the only one that noticed it over the weekend but I may be the only one that is putting it into print form. And it just seemed too much like Alex Jones & the Loose Change gang were running rough shod over the events of the weekend. Again, just my humble opinion. I don't remember them being at any of the planning meetings. There were too many others that worked too hard. Maybe I'm overstating things. It's just my opinion. Again, I'm new to the group and I did not go to all the planning meetings and I stopped going because I found I could not adequately do anything too well from here, not being from New York. But meeting many of the people I had just been emailing was a great joy and just being with some of the people I work with at Ground Zero was great since I only get to see them on a semi-regular basis and I got to see them for a whole weekend. If I miss anybody, I am sorry. Les, Tom, Charlie, Frank, Ryan, Luke, Charlie, Harvey (Thank for the song again), Carol, Sherry (You slave driver you), Rodney, Bob, Jack, Janette, Andy, Brian (Thanks for giving back my cell phone), Gene, Scott the photographer, Diane, and there are so many others in the New York group that I have probably forgotten. I know your faces when I come to GZ but forget your names. I'll get to remember them the more I come up. And I can't forget Wendi & Jon my new friends in my home group from Philadelphia. They came up and spent some time with me as well in the park before they went off scouting around. Jon is a major player in the movement. He does a man on the street type interview and then puts them on the Internet. He also does very many blogs about many different topics. We are in the early stages of forming a new 9/11-truth group in the Philadelphia area and hope to get it going into the outreach area soon. So thanks to everybody that I met and talked to over the weekend and thanks for waiting so long for my to get this into my blog.

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