The Twin Towers! Open letter to John Kerry. By Otto Suwara 3/22/04 It was Jan 9,1982. We were at the swearing in ceremony of the NYC Fire Dept. in Manhattan, NY. My brother and I had just completed the 12-week training course at the NYC Fire-Fighting Academy at Randles Island. My father, mother, wife and 2-yr. old son Ian were there with us. To celebrate the occasion we ate and went for a walk in NYC. After my parents went home. Big Al and I decided to go up to the top of the Twin Towers. We took the elevator up to the top of the world trade center and looked off. We were in full dress uniform, just sworn in, brand new firemen looking over our domain. We were on top of the world. I am writing this letter to you because of the shameless use of the 911 tragedy as a political prop by George W. Bush. I have every right to tell the story of the Hero’s of 911 because I am a Firefighter and I was there. It is now the morning of September 11, 2001 and I am 30 feet up in the air on top of a roof. The house I am building for my family in the Catskill Mountains, NY. The house I am building for my family sits on top of a hill that overlooks the Catskill Mountain range. The lumber delivery truck has just arrived and we start unloading roofing shingles onto the roof. The driver Bob tells me that there is something very wrong in NYC. He heard it on the radio. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I said, “we better hurry up and unload these shingles, I might be recalled and have to go to the city to help in the emergency”. Recall is being called into work from home for a major disaster or emergency. My brother, Big Al shows up in his car and says: “We have been recalled and must report to our fire houses in the city, let’s go”. We jump into his car and head for the city. I am 6’3” and 200 lbs. Big Al is 6’8” and 270 lbs. of muscle. At the Rock, which is the nickname of the Fire Academy, we were nicknamed the gorilla brothers. He drops me off at my firehouse and he goes to his firehouse, Engine 92. I get my equipment and we leave my firehouse to assemble at Ladder 61’s quarters to wait for the bus to go downtown. We break into squads and wait for the orders to board. We have lunch there and watch the tragedy on the news. We are all agitated and anxious. We double-check our equipment and tools. We all carry extra masks and air tanks. We never go downtown that day and are sent back to our respective firehouses. I found out later that the destruction is total and that there are few survivors. I went back to my firehouse and then was told to go home. Later in the week we all took turns going down to the trade center, to search for bodies. We took no extra masks or air cylinders. We would meet near Shea Stadium and board buses for Manhattan. We would drive through the City with a police escort. At the site the smell was sickening. It was a smell that I had never smelled before or since. It was permeated with rotting flesh, chemicals, asbestos, death and destruction. The EPA said the air quality was safe. Now we find out it was just another lie. Most of the workers had little breathing protection and we are all suffering the consequences. The destruction was total. Everything had been ground up into dust. There was nothing left. A shoe or a piece of paper, a piece of a computer, a modem, that is all! A wheel off the plane and a piece of it's green skin. I’m walking into the 911 site with my squad and here comes my brother Big Al. Here we are again, almost twenty years later back at the Twin Towers, standing in a hole in the ground. Later we decide to have lunch together and go to the hospitality boat. On it there is a buffet and plenty of places to relax. There were a lot of young volunteers at ground zero. They helped in any way possible. They were from all over this country and the world. They gave out snacks, coffee and cheer. They helped us now in the worst of situations. They are some of the true heroes of the event. They came to help and by so doing provided the answer to the problem. The answer to this senseless violence? Their acts of kindness, brotherly love, helpfulness, compassion and patience are a model that our society must strive for. They renewed my faith in humanity. There were a lot of mature volunteers also. Thank you! Thank you all! For doing the right thing! For going out of your way to stop and try to help your brother. This is the highest form of compassion. Thank you again. George Bush arrives at the site, takes a bow and leaves. Everyone else was working. We were looking for the bodies of the missing. We found four firefighter bodies one day in a stairwell that had collapsed. They were squashed and liquefied. There was a Priest there that blessed them and held a brief service. We covered the remains with flags. We passed and carried the stretchers carrying the remains out over the rubble. We knew that finding these bodies would bring a resolution to their families suffering. These people who died in this terrible act are the true working day hero’s of this world. They get up every day and go to work. Only asking for a little respect and a living wage. Some of them like the police, emergency services and fireman never know when they go to work if they are ever going to return home to their loved ones. These heroes never did. They and their loved ones lived always with that doubt. They went to work. They ran into a towering inferno. They got people out, 25,000 evacuated. They did their jobs in the face of the greatest evil. They ran up a hundred flights to put out that fire. They saved thousands. They knew what had to be done and did it. They laid their lives on the line to save others. Yes, they are in heaven now. For it is said that: you can only get through those pearly gates, carrying your brother. I carried their remains and I am proud to have served with them. Their sacrifice, love and courage should be held in our highest esteem. We must let them rest in peace and honor them. Set them as the example. The ideal. Their sacrifice. Honor them by serving each other and respecting each other’s wishes in our daily deeds. Using these Hero’s Deaths as a political prop is the lowest form of humanity imaginable. This happened on George W. Bush’s watch. Sacrilege! Blasphemy! These heroes died saving lives! George W. Bush used them as an excuse to start a war and take more innocent lives. Respectfully yours, Otto W. Suwara, retired