Reposted from last year:
In the months after 9/11, my church sent me to Ground Zero to serve at a respite center for NYC firefighters and police officers who were still digging through the debris in search of the remains of those who were in the towers when they fell.
The firefighters and policemen would work their normal shifts, then spend all of their "off time" at Ground Zero. To give them a little hot soup or coffee, or a quiet and clean place where they could take their boots off and close their eyes for an hour...well, I wish I could have done more.
I worked the midnight to 8am shift. A couple of times during that shift, our group would load rolling suitcases with snacks, water, soda...and a couple of us had thermoses of hot chocolate. We trudged around the perimeter (which would take well over an hour) to offer this refreshment to police officers who were guarding the perimeter.
At the NYPD's command center at the site, we had made our offer to a police sergeant who politely declined. As we were walking away, she called out..."Hey, wait a minute! Do you want to look inside?"
She opened the gate for us and we walked inside. Soon I was a mere 30 feet from all of the twisted metal. Unbelievably, even 3 1/2 months later and in 20 degree temperatures, there was still a nasty acrid smell coming from the pile.
Our group stood stunned and silent for about 10 minutes while we surveyed the devastation. All of us cried.
This photo was taken by an Amarillo (Tex.) Firefighter who was volunteering with us that night. What you are looking at is the "iron cross" that was fused by the intense heat. On the crossbar hangs a fallen firefighter's jacket. It was 2am and it had just begun to snow.
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