On the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US, here are five videos that tell stories of the tragedy and the heroism of the day.
1) “Everybody who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.”
This ESPN documentary tells the story of Welles R. Crowther, a young man whose career took him to the World Trade Center as an equities trader. He actually wanted to be a New York City firefighter. He was in the south tower when the second plane hit. Many people were injured and unable to move. What Crowther did is inspirational. One survivor says he announced, “Follow me. Only help the ones you can help.” Another woman remembers that he said, “Everybody who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.”
If that’s not a motto for our present age, I don’t know what is.
Crowther died when the south tower collapsed at 9:59 AM.
2) “Everyone helped everyone.”
This documentary, narrated by Tom Hanks, came out in 2011, but I only discovered it today. It deals with an angle I had never even considered, much less knew the details of.
It’s the story of the biggest boat lift in history, which was the evacuation of half a million New Yorkers off the island of Manhattan, and how it was accomplished by average Americans responding to a call for maritime help. As Joel Engel noted, this video is yet another ratification of William F. Buckley’s quote:
I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
This video, which, like the one above it, would be good for children to watch, has powerful messages of why we help our fellow man.
3) The French-American Brothers’ Documentary
French-American Naudet brothers Jules and Gédéon, along with James Hanlon, happened to be working on a documentary about New York City firefighters the morning of September 11. They have some of the only original footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center tower.
The full documentary is available for purchase, but you can watch snippets elsewhere.
The documentary captures the sight and sound of people who, were suffocated out of the World Trade Center and forced to jump. It is horrific to hear and watch, and very much worth remembering on this tragic anniversary.
4) A Perfect Strike
Here’s another ESPN documentary — part of the “30 For 30” series — that is worth your while. It tells the story of President George W. Bush throwing a perfect strike in Game 4 of the World Series that year. But it’s really about that most beautiful of American games — baseball. You learn a lot about Bush, or I did, and his love for the game.
What happened to baseball that fall, with a suspension of the season, made this the latest World Series on record — it spread into November. That the Yankees were the American League Champions just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks was a significant morale boost to the city and the country.
If your perception of President Bush is based on obsessive watching of The Daily Show, this earnest take may be discombobulating. For those with more nuanced perceptions of the man, it’s a great story to help us remember those days and weeks after the attack.
5) Just Watch Footage
The video above is a collection of video from a variety of angles, with very little commentary. Also of interest might be rewatching the news coverage from that day. NBC has the full day of coverage, which begins with 20 minutes of unimportant news and weather followed by the events that would control the news cycle for months to come.