Title: We’re Not Leaving
Author: Benjamin J. Luft M. D.
Publisher: Greenpoint Press
Publication Date: September 2011
I don’t think any of us over a certain age forget where we were or what we were doing on September, 11, 2001. I remember I’d just arrived at work and booted up my computer. A co-worker said some idiot flew a plane into a building in New York. Then the second plane hit. Then the Pentagon was hit. The towers came down in a cloud of dust. People were running. People were jumping from buildings. The whole day was a blur of emotions ranging from fear and anger to sadness. But what does all that have to do with book reviews. The book I’m reviewing is a collection of essays based on the experiences of the responders to 9/11. These people were the cops, firemen, doctors, priests. It covers a wide range of people and experiences, but all with a common theme.
Each essay is moving. Sometimes the writer is a little angry, angry at the government who lied to them. They were lied to about the air being safe to breath. They feel betrayed that the same America who loved them on 9/11 now doesn’t want to take care of them. They sacrificed their health and in some cases their lives to do what they felt were right.
Over 900 responders have died since 9/11 of medical complications related to working at Ground Zero. Many more suffer from PTSD. As one of the writers said, it’s normal for cops and firemen to suffer from PTSD. They witness one or two traumatic events and it sets them off. In the case of 9/11, a lot of the responders didn’t witness one or two traumatic events but hundreds.
One article details a program called POPPA that was created just for that purpose. Police especially, from what the various writers said, can’t go through their department for mental health. If their fellow officers found out they’d be ostracized and unable to do their job. So many just suffer through it. POPPA was created to offer them a program that was connected, but still had an agreement to privacy.
The one thing I took from the book is that all those who volunteered to help whether it was rescuing survivors, getting people out before the buildings fell, recovery, or cleanup are owed by us. They’ve given their all in some cases to their country, and deserve to get something back for that.
The essays themselves are beautifully written. You can almost hear each persons voice telling the story. You can pick up on their sadness, their anger, their frustration. The book is divided into four parts. The first part Caught in the Collapse details those who arrived first and some of who were caught when the building fell. The second part details various peoples experiences in looking for survivors. The third part deals with the recovery process, while the final section details the different areas of help that the responders need. The last section is about trying to start over after the tragedy. Each section begins with a series of pictures showing scenes from around Manhattan on 9/11.
It’s a deeply moving book, and while I know some will say they can’t read it, that it will hurt too much, I think they need to. I recommend this book to anyone old enough to understand. It wasn’t just those who died that day that we need to remember. We need to remember those who are still living that we can help. It’s hard to tell what the end death toll will be, but we can do what we need to in order to try to minimize it. We owe it to these people.
You can visit www.911respondersremember.org to see some videos of those who submitted essays for the book, and read more from the different responders.
Be sure to check out more reviews from Rick at http://rhodesreview.com/