COMMENTARY | I found it very hard yesterday on September 11, 2011, to avoid programming that was directly related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Television stations were showing 9/11 programming, radio stations had their own form of 9/11 tributes and even the Yahoo! homepage donned a black table set to commemorate those who lost their lives during the attacks. For the most part, all Americans believe they own a piece of 9/11.
It is an event you will never forget witnessing, and it is an event that everyone witnessed together. Sure I remember where I was on September 11, 2001, but I also remember there were 2,997 people who were infinitely more involved than me who will never have the chance to remember. There are untold thousands who share a preferred stock in the symbolism and memories of that day that trump any kind of significance I can place on it.
One of those people is Rick Rescorla. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, Rescorla was a retired U.S. Army lieutenant who served in Vietnam and became the World Trade Center security chief for the financial services firm Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter.
Rescorla accurately predicted that terrorists might attack the World Trade Center with a truck bomb in the basement parking garage. His warnings were ignored by the Port Authority, but gained him widespread respect with his superiors after the attack was realized in 1993. Rescorla was instrumental in the evacuation, and was the last man out of the building.
After the 1993 bombing, Rescorla and his friend Dan Hill knew the security measures that were put in place would prevent another truck bombing, but thought that another attack was likely if not imminent. They discussed the feasibility of an air attack, and eventually came to believe that the next attack on the World Trade Center towers would come from the air.
On 9/11, Rick Rescorla was on the 44th floor of WTC 2 when the first plane hit. He ignored building officials who advised employees to stay put, followed his own evacuation plan and successfully evacuated the large majority of Morgan Stanley’s 2,700 employees. Rick was last seen on the 10th floor headed up to finish evacuations. Had WTC withstood the plane crash, Rescorla would have no doubt been the last person out once again. His remains were never found.
As the television programming was overtaken by 10th anniversary events, I couldn’t help but wonder if the children who lost their parents, the parents who lost their children and the wives of the firefighters really wanted to relive the events annually for the rest of their lives. I for one do not need a yearly reminder to remember; I believe a lot of the programming has more of a profit motive than the stations let on. It is good to remember, but I think we should allow the families of the heroes like Rick Rescorla a reprieve from the annual bombardment of 9/11 scenery and programming.
History Channel Documentary: “The Man Who Predicted 9/11″.