A Tribute to Heroes: World Trade Center Takes Us Back to 9/11 to Remind Us of the Bravery and Heroism of the Police Officers, Firefighters, and Civilians Who Responded to the Attacks That Day

Article excerpt

Every so often a book is written or a story is told or a film is made that is more than the sum of its parts. These stories carry within them a meaning that is far deeper and more meaningful than fiction alone can convey. They speak to the greater truths that lie just below the surface and that are often unacknowledged amid the hustle of everyday life. Such stories remind us that amidst unspeakable evil there is overwhelming good. They remind us that bravery and honor and courage and love are great virtues. And they remind us that heroes really do walk amongst us. Director Oliver Stone's new film, World Trade Center, is such a story.

Carnage and Terror

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful day. Across most of the eastern half of the United States the weather was clear and fine. The morning sun illuminated a crystal blue sky--in New York City, its golden rays filtering majestically through and amongst the glittering steel and glass of the magnificent skyline. There was no reason to suspect that on this most perfect of days, a colossal evil would soon be perpetrated.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Eastern time, that beautiful golden day would be shattered in a hail of molten aluminum, steel, and jet fuel. The unspeakable carnage and death wrought by terrorists that day would become the backdrop for some of the greatest acts of heroism ever seen. From all over the great city of New York, firefighters and police officers responded, pouring into Manhattan toward the stricken towers of the World Trade Center. Among them were officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno of the Port Authority police. World Trade Center tells their incredible story.

Like many other brave officers and firemen, McLoughlin and Jimeno did not hesitate to rush into the towers of the World Trade Center in an effort to save those still trapped within. They did this despite the terror they themselves almost certainly felt.

The movie captures the absolute horror of the scene at Ground Zero. As McLoughlin and his team approach the towers, that horror is written on the face of Nicholas Cage, who gives an outstanding performance as Officer McLoughlin. As portrayed by Cage, McLoughlin manages to stay calm amidst the carnage and chaos, directing his men to gather the tools and equipment they would need to rescue victims on the upper floors of the buildings.

The planned rescue would never come. Just as the men gathered their equipment came a sickening rumble as one of the buildings began to collapse. In the movie, the men stop and look outside through a set of doors and see the roiling, angry brown cloud of debris caused by the falling building. McLoughlin screams for the men to get into an elevator shaft, and the world goes dark.

Miracles

It is quite literally nothing short of miraculous that anyone immediately below the falling towers of the World Trade Center should have survived. Made of glass, steel, and concrete, the towers were enormous buildings at more than 1,300 feet tall each. Every floor of the buildings offered almost a full acre of floor space. It is inconceivable that anyone near them when they collapsed could have survived, much less two men trapped directly below them. Nevertheless, like very few others, both officers McLoughlin and Jimeno survived, only to endure being buried alive in the unstable pile of debris that remained after the towers collapsed.

The colossal horror of Ground Zero strains the imagination, but director Oliver Stone does a masterful job of recreating the acrid, stygian darkness that became the world for officers McLoughlin and Jimeno. It is not enough that they are hopelessly trapped, entombed in a shifting, unstable tangle of glass, steel, and concrete. …