Sacrificed Survivors of 9/11

In the 2002 movie The Guys, based on a true story, a lady English professor is asked to help a New York City Fire Dept. captain write eulogies for eight of his men who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  A big part of the captain's "needing a writer" (a line from the movie) is that he was in shock and quietly grieving shortly after their deaths.

A new documentary, entitled Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque, is, in many ways, the story and movie that the fire captain from The Guys would make if he had nine years to reflect on the events of 9/11 and was now able to speak with some ease about what happened then.  The captain could also now talk about what 9/11 means in today's world, where a quite different New York City mayor and some imam want to put up a triumphal mosque at one of the buildings hit on 9/11.  That is not a stretch: the landing gear of one of the planes crashed through the roof of the Burlington Coat Factory and potential mosque site, along with quite a bit of debris, which included human remains.

"Normally you have to ask people a lot of questions to get them to talk," says the film's director, Martin Mawyer, "but we just sat these people in front of the camera, and they told their stories."  Mawyer is the also the head of the Christian Action Network.  Patti Pierucci wrote the overview and those parts of the script that didn't come from the words of survivors and their families.

In a premier showing and discussion held at St. Luke's Theater in Manhattan, Mawyer and many of the people in the film -- rescue operations fireman Tim Brown; construction worker Andy Sullivan; Al and Maureen Santora, the parents of slain fireman Christopher Santora; Madeline Brooks, the head of the New York Chapter of Act! for America -- have come to present the film and talk to a select audience that includes an anti-terrorism expert who lived in Arab countries; "Culturalism: A Word, a Value, Our Future" author John Press; various members of the internet media; and the friends and family of those involved in the film.

The DVD began with two film previews that answered the question, "What does a mosque have to do with the sadness and fears of the loved ones of 9/11 victims?"  The first preview,, "Islam Rising," shows Muslim street protesters calling for the death of the West, followed by Dutch politician Geert Wilders stating that "Islam is the communism of today."  This is followed by Pres. Obama receiving a medallion from a Saudi official and scenes of the World Trade Center destruction.  The second movie preview, "Homegrown Jihad," shows jihadist training camps spread across the United States, where the members can be seen marching, shooting rifles, and learning hand-to-hand combat.

Sacrificed Survivors itself has many personal stories told in a quiet, powerful way, and one can see the emotion under the surface of the speakers' facial expressions.  I don't know if I can do them justice in my words -- and I don't want to give away the story of the film here.

Tim Brown talked about his best friend, fellow firefighter Capt. Terry Hatton, hugging him before he went into the Trade Center, saying that "I love you, brother.  I may never see you again."  Terry Hatton never returned.

Another of the on-screen speakers is Madeline Brooks, who saw the 9/11 attacks from her home.  She is now the New York City chapter leader of ACT! for America, an organization founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a former Lebanese Christian who saw her country's society destroyed by an Islamic takeover.  Brooks says she felt that "an enormous evil was holding us in its sadistic hand."  In fact, Madeline's organization has sent out an e-mail linking to the website "Stakelbeck on Terror," where this week's topic is "Iran using Western Mosques to plot terrorism."

Next, Andy Sullivan came on the screen and talked about seeing the attacks while working construction with his crew directly across the street and realizing, after the second plane hit, "that someone had just declared war on us."  The film then shows something the mainstream media doesn't have the guts to show again: scenes of people choosing to jump to their death from the Trade Center rather than be passively burned alive.  There were also conversations with others who lost firefighter brothers, in both senses of the word.

The film then begins a discussion of the plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero, which more than one survivor family member calls "a graveyard."  After showing a Fox News video of smiling and cheering Palestinians in Gaza celebrating the 9/11 attacks on America, the brother of a deceased firefighter says, "It's as if they are dancing on the graves of those that they killed."

Sacrificed Survivors goes on with more very personal recollections and ends with a photo essay of two-year-old Christine Hanson, youngest victim at the Trade Center (a passenger on one of the planes, along with both her parents).

In the discussion that followed the film, Andy Sullivan stated that 40 percent of the bodies of those murdered on 9/11 at the World Trade Center were never found.  Madeline Brooks said that the attempt to build a mosque at Ground Zero is a "soft jihad," a smiling attempt to subordinate American culture to Islamic culture -- a gloating.  Sullivan went on to say that they -- the Imam Rauf couple -- "are attempting to plant the seeds of Islamic thought in our country."  He also noted that Rep. Peter King will be Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in January 2011.

An audience member asked about the terrorist camps in the film preview.  Someone in the audience who does security investigations said the information gathered in making that film was passed to the FBI and New York officials and that he does not know why they haven't been closed.  Fireman Tim Brown said that his contacts tell him that the investigation has been stopped at the top political levels.  The director of the movie, Martin Mawyer, said that he spoke with the Roy Romer, the former (Democrat) governor of Colorado, concerning the Muslim training camp in that state and the (now-)former governor said that "we were under orders from Washington not to do anything."

The people in both the film and the audience that night are those middle-class working New Yorkers who Mayor Bloomberg and his elitist friends want to pretend don't have the "superior intellect" or proper judgment about what values are important to a society.  I suspect that Bloomberg believes that they are not worth considering in his "grand plans" to remake the world.  The mayor can't even remake the Second Avenue Subway project  without these people, the heart and soul of New York.  What "superior grand plans" does he have?

Every year, officials of the City of New York commemorate the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the worst industrial fire in New York history and the second-greatest New York loss of life after 9/11.  When a fire broke out in 1911, 146 mostly young immigrant women died and another 71 were injured, as the New York Fire Dept. didn't have the technology to reach the upper floors of the site or break the fall of the many who jumped to their death rather than burn.  As recently as 2007, the 96th anniversary of the fire "was marked by a solemn ceremony outside the Asch building, which withstood the blaze and is now owned by New York University."  New York City Council President Christine Quinn, fire officials, labor leaders, and Cardinal Egan stood on the street to honor the victims of that fire which can more accurately be described than 9/11 as a tragedy -- because 9/11 was a mass murder.  "A prayer was said and the Ballad of the Triangle Fire was sung.  Finally, schoolchildren were given white carnations, each tagged with the name of a victim.  A silver fire bell tolled 146 times as the children read the names, then placed the blossoms in a pile, forming a tangled mound of crushed flowers and stems on the chilly sidewalk."

The City of New York appears to be "farsighted."  They can see things in a faraway utopia but cannot see things as they really are up close.  The more people who order and see the Sacrificed Survivors documentary, the greater the political outcry will be for government officials to get a new pair of glasses for their "presbyopia" -- and see the world around them in focus.  Then they can perhaps support people who care about America, and not those who care about jihad.  Or they can "retire" after another Election Day.