Guest Column: Remembrance of 9/11
By Michael Isam
St Augustine, FL
My day started out like the day before, well almost.
I was sitting at my computer putting together the latest information for my veteran blog as my normal routine. Just after I had performed my last cut and paste, the phone rang.
I noticed it was a little early for phone calls, so I picked up quickly so as not to disturb my still sleeping wife.
The voice on the other end was my DAV Commander at the time, Edith Look. “Nate Lacey needs a ride to the Community Based Outpatient Clinic”, she said. “I can’t do it and you are closer, will you run over and get him?”
She told me that he was having some issues, so, I “volunteered” to get him. Little did I know the turmoil awaiting me.
I got dressed and scribbled a note for my lovely bride telling her where I was going and I would be home shortly.
When I got to Nate’s home, I knew something was not right. He was usually on the front porch waiting. From the interior of the house came this weak voice telling me to come in and help.
Nate was partially dressed and seemed to be in distress. I offered to call an ambulance, but he was adamant that he did not have money to pay for it and it would be a fight with the VA to get the cost covered.
Having gone down this road before, I acquiesced and helped him finish dressing. It was a major event to get him to my truck, but we were finally on our way to the clinic.
Clinics of this type are not equipped to handle a walk-in emergency. The days are planned with appointments. I explained that I was not aware of the policies and that my DAV Commander had told me she was directed by the VA in Gainesville to take Nate there.
They did check him out and called for an ambulance. He was having a heart attack, so Nate ended up in an ambulance headed for Flagler Hospital.
While I was waiting, I noticed the television and wondered why they were tuned to a movie that involved an aircraft flying into a building. The scene just did not compute, but my friend Nate was in trouble and I paid little attention to the program.
The ambulance arrived and the waiting area became bedlam with paramedics from the fire department, security guards from the VA, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department, more firefighters arriving, all for Nate.
After Nate was loaded in the ambulance and on his way, I became the center of attention. A doctor, the administrator, security and one overbearing employee proceeded to inform me of VA policy and procedure. I assured them it would not happen again.
All the while, the TV was going on in the background and I wondered why the same scene in the movie continued to be repeated.
When I got home, I checked out the channel I saw at the clinic. That’s when I learned it was not a movie.
Nearly 3000 people lost their lives that day, including Rick Rescorla; Vice President of Security for Morgan-Stanley-Dean-Witter. He was last seen on the 10th floor landing going back up to see about stragglers.
He had already helped nearly 2700 people exit to safety. That’s when the building collapsed.
According to the website for the Chase-Rescorla scholarship fund, Rescorla was a unique individual, dedicated to his job and more importantly, to his people.
An Army Lieutenant in the battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, Rescorla would sing to his troops to help keep them calm. Survivors of the 9/11 attack remember him singing to them as he herded them to safety down the staircase.
I wish I had known him. I hope we will continue to keep his memory alive.