Atlantis Online
October 23, 2017, 07:19:19 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: DID A COMET CAUSE A FIRESTORM THAT DEVESTATED NORTH AMERICA 12,900 YEARS AGO?
http://atlantisonline.smfforfree2.com/index.php/topic,1963.0.html
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life

Pages: [1] 2   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: 9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life  (Read 1240 times)
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« on: September 11, 2011, 07:56:02 pm »

9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life
By Tom Geoghegan BBC News, Washington DC



Like thousands of other New Yorkers, Artie Van Why saw the attacks on the World Trade Center from the streets below. What he witnessed in those minutes changed his life profoundly and will, he believes, continue to haunt him until the day he dies.

The moment he walked through the revolving doors of his office building and stepped on to the street on that sunny September morning, Artie Van Why's world shifted a few degrees on its axis.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

    It was like the Wizard of Oz, stepping into another world”

His life from that instant took a different course, propelled by the mayhem that enveloped him that day, events the world later identified by two numbers, nine and 11.

Millions of people watched on television as four hijacked planes crashed in the US, two of them into one famous New York landmark. But Van Why was in the thick of it.

The experience forced him to leave New York, his home for 26 years, and move more than 100 miles west to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, deep in Amish country.
Continue reading the main story
Download the tablet version

PDF download The 73 minutes that changed my life[655 KB]

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

    Download the reader here

Ten years after the atrocities, sitting in the corner of a humble one-bedroom apartment located above a funeral home, his face is a picture of concentration as he recalls the day's events.

"I remember it was a beautiful day. Whenever I see a really beautiful blue sky, it takes me back to that morning."
Report Spam   Logged

Social Buttons

Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 07:57:39 pm »



He was working as a clerical assistant at law firm Holland & Knight, and his office was on the 23rd floor of a building separated from the World Trade Center site only by Church Street and the Millennium Hilton hotel. At 08:46, a loud boom shook the building.

A colleague asked if it was thunder, then someone screamed for everyone to get out of the building, because a plane had hit one of the twin towers. Expecting to see a small aircraft sticking out of the famous skyscraper, Van Why took the lift to the ground floor and exited through a revolving door.

"It was like the Wizard of Oz, stepping into another world. It seemed as everything slowed down and it was going frame by frame as if in slow motion.

"All these white paper sheets were covering the ground like snow and coming down. I remember thinking that I'd never seen so much paper.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 07:58:06 pm »

Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 07:58:41 pm »

"I walked a short distance to Church Street where the towers were and that's when I saw the North Tower for the first time. I was dumbstruck. It was hard to comprehend what I was seeing.

"There was a huge black hole, the flames were bright orange and the smoke was billowing out of the tower."

More people were arriving on the streets, he says, and sirens could be heard in the background. As his recollections become more vivid, the 58-year-old closes his eyes and rocks back and forth in his orange armchair, his right foot tapping the carpet vigorously.

His rented apartment is full of reminders of what he went through. A photo of the World Trade Center is on the fridge, and other photographs featuring the famous Manhattan skyline adorn the living room, like pictures of a deceased member of the family.
Fridge door in Van Why's home Reminders of the life left behind fill his apartment

One wall is full of framed newspaper cuttings, reviews of the play that Van Why - a former actor - wrote and performed about 9/11. And in front of this shrine, he sits and recalls the minutes that reshaped his life, wild hand gestures making the scene all the more real.

"I don't know how long I was looking at the North Tower, trying to take it all in. I was transfixed. What broke it was when I realised there were other things falling, there were people falling and everyone realised at the same time.

"People started screaming and my reaction was to scream 'No, No, No!' at the thought that people were falling down. And that's when - I don't know why I reacted in this way - but my instinct was to run towards them.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

    I remember shouting out 'God, save us all!”

"I ran to the plaza where they were falling. I didn't have a moment's thought, I just ran towards the tower, thinking 'Can I help these people?' I imagined them laying there and the thought of being able to hold their hand or sit and be with them, comfort them."
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 07:59:21 pm »



Reminders of the life left behind fill his apartment
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 07:59:46 pm »

Another man was running with him, and for a moment, the two stopped and stood side by side, taking in the enormity of what they were seeing - human beings jumping to their deaths. Van Why recalls seeing bodies piling up on the ground.

"One of my most vivid memories is looking to my left and I saw this man in a suit falling. Somehow I had thought that if you ever jumped from a high place, you would be dead before you hit the ground.

"But I remember seeing how very much alive he was and I can still see his arms and legs moving as if to brace himself. Fortunately I didn't see him hit."

Some guards shouted for the two men to come to safety through another World Trade Center Building, number 5. They went down a lift and out of the site on to Church Street, from where Van Why saw the second plane hit the South Tower, only 17 minutes after the first.

Pandemonium broke out. Debris was raining down, he says, as he ran towards Fulton Street, at one point falling to the ground.

"People started to run over the top of me and I thought I was going to be trampled to death but I managed to get up. I remember shouting out 'God, save us all!'"

He recalls an African-American woman tripping and being helped to her feet by a businessman. Then he ran past a large man who was lying face down in the street.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2011, 08:00:08 pm »

Getting down on his knees, Van Why saw that the man had a serious head injury. He appeared to have been hit by a putty knife that had fallen from one of the buildings and was lying nearby stained with blood.

"Another man stopped and gave me a denim jacket which we put over the open wound and then I remember seeing his watch on the street beside him and I put it in his pants [trouser] pocket. We turned him over and he had a work tag with a name."

With tears falling and his voice cracking, Van Why goes on: "My biggest regret is that I didn't look to his tag to see what the name was. I could have found his family and told them that there were people with him."

An ambulance arrived and it required several people to lift the man on to the stretcher. Van Why stroked his arm and told him he would be fine.

Realising he had left his mobile phone in the office, he began asking strangers if he could borrow one to get the message through to his parents that he was OK. But none of the phones were working, so he went into a cafe and used a telephone there.

When he emerged, he heard a deafening sound. He looked to his left and saw a wall of grey smoke coming towards him. The South Tower was collapsing.

For the second time that morning, he started running. The time was 09:59, 73 minutes after the first plane flew into the North Tower.

By the time he got to his apartment on 43rd Street, after deliberately avoiding the area around the Empire State Building, it was approaching noon. The North Tower had also collapsed, but Van Why had been far enough away to not hear it.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2011, 08:00:38 pm »

Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2011, 08:01:13 pm »

In the days that followed, he slept only fitfully and always with the bedroom light on.

"I was afraid of the dark. It never happened before 9/11. It was a sense of security having that light on.

"For that first week I would wake up early and call my parents first thing. I would be on the phone crying with them. There was a lot of crying that week.

"I was feeling sadness and grief and mourning like I had never felt, similar to losing a loved one. And still an incomprehension, trying to understand what had happened."

He avoided watching television or reading newspapers because he could not bear to see replays or photos of the planes striking the towers. He had his own images, pictures inside his head, sometimes appearing with a clarity that transported him back to the mayhem.

He discovered that two men who lived in his apartment building were missing and a lawyer at work who was last seen running towards the towers was also presumed dead.

Van Why had done exactly the same and survived. As a recovering alcoholic who had been sober for two years, he already had a therapist, and in the weeks following 9/11 he saw him daily.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were also an opportunity to share his feelings with others, but he lived alone and had no partner to provide constant support. Before long he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Holland & Knight opened makeshift offices at a hotel in Midtown but he did not feel able to go back to work until two or three weeks after the attacks. When he did, it was the first time he had ventured outside his neighbourhood.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2011, 08:01:36 pm »

Artie Van Why

    Apr 1953: Born Gaithersburg, Maryland, to Thelma and Art. Older sister Sue
    1977: Begins acting career in New York
    1988: Acting dries up, becomes clerical assistant
    Jan 1999: Gives up drinking, joins AA
    Sep 2001: Sees 9/11 attacks
    Nov 2001: Stops work and begins writing
    2002: Performs his one-man play That Day In September in Los Angeles
    Aug 2003: Play opens off-Broadway in New York
    Sep 2003: Moves to Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    2005: Starts work at Fulton Theatre box office
    2008: Part-time job at Weis supermarket
    Apr 2011: Returns to New York for the first time
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2011, 08:01:59 pm »

A few days later, he rented a car and drove to Maryland, for a 30-year high school reunion. The sight of an aeroplane coming into land caused him to burst into tears. At the event, when he introduced himself by saying: "I'm from the greatest city in the world, New York City," people stood up and applauded.

His old offices near Ground Zero were soon ready again, but Van Why found returning to the scene too harrowing to endure. The smell of smoke from the still-smouldering site would fill his nostrils as he emerged from the subway.

The WTC plaza - once his lunchtime sanctuary - now resembled to him a grave. One morning, the police allowed him to enter the site so he could lay six roses on what he regarded as "hallowed ground".

In November 2001, he resigned from work after 13 years of service. It was too painful to continue. He instead focused on his new project - writing his own story about his experience.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2011, 08:02:17 pm »

He had written emails to family and friends following the attacks, to explain what happened, and they forwarded his story to other people. Soon he began to receive appreciative emails from strangers.

Encouraged, he began to develop his story into a script, convinced it was his mission to keep the memory alive. It became a one-man play that he performed off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.

"The play gave me a sense of purpose. Those two years after 9/11, when I was really focused on my play, that is the only time in my life I felt fulfilled, because I had a purpose and I thought I was doing something important and something selfless, because I was doing it for the memory of the people I saw die."

After each performance, some people would tell him their own story of where they were, making him realise, he says, that people across the US had a story of 9/11.

He was hoping he could continue performing the show for at least five years.

"I wanted to dedicate my life to it. But it closed in New York earlier than planned, the major papers ignored it and some reviews were critical, saying I was trying to profit out of it."

It seemed to him like the city was ready to move on and he was not. The spirit that defined New York in the days, weeks and months afterwards had gone, he says, and he felt a bit like a "lone crusader".
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2011, 08:02:31 pm »

Steven Freeman Friend

I was out of the country and didn't get back to New York City until the end of October. I was in touch with Artie, aware of his proximity, but didn't fully understand the impact on him until I got home. It was unravelling. It could only be unravelling. No-one should have to witness something like that. In survival mode, he knew he no longer could stay in NYC. His family, which had always been a strong connection in his life, would provide a sense of comfort and familiarity he desperately needed. He moved out of the city and regrouped. It took time. Through his grief and pain he also found a creative outlet. He was able to process his grief by writing about it.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2011, 08:02:57 pm »

"It still weighed so heavily on my emotions and who I was, so to see other people weren't doing that and moving on, it was like 'How can they be doing that?'

"There was anger and a feeling of isolation. In the month after 9/11, it was all you talked about with strangers, but two years afterwards, there was a sense that 'OK, you don't need to talk about this any more.'"

Immersing himself for years in writing and performing the play probably held him back, he admits, because he was dwelling on the events and re-living them, but not dealing with the emotions.

That process did not begin until he moved. In September 2003, he started a new life in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, because he wanted to be near his parents.

"I never thought I would leave New York, I envisaged my last days would be in New York but it just seemed like the right thing to do."

He felt guilty about leaving, but the pull of family was overwhelming and he felt like he had nowhere else to go.

"All of a sudden I just needed to be closer to them, I wanted it and needed it. For me and my parents, the reality that 9/11 was a day that I could have died brought the importance of being with my family to me.

"Though I was in my 50s, there was a sense that I needed mummy and daddy, that sense of security and that sense of home."

Growing up, home was Gaithersburg in Maryland, where the young Van Why was a quiet boy, according to his parents.
Report Spam   Logged
Crystal Thielkien
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4529



« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2011, 08:03:26 pm »



Van Why performed his play in 2003
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum | Buy traffic for your forum/website
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines