Impact of 9/11 still deeply felt at Ground Zero
Posted May 3, 2011 7:14 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2011 11:08 p.m. EDT
New York — The headquarters of Engine 10 and Ladder 10 in lower Manhattan sits directly across the street from ground zero, providing firefighters a chilling daily reminder of the comrades they lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
Firehouse Ten lost six of 11 firefighters when the twin towers collapsed after hijacked planes crashed into them in the deadliest terrorist attack ever executed on U.S. soil.
"Just think about it, it's insane," said Gerrit Nigboer, who works at Firehouse Ten.
On the fire station's outside wall, a bronze memorial hangs etched with images of the burning towers and the crews working below them. Tourists visit the memorial and study the poster hanging beside it that lists the 343 New York City firefighters who died that day.
"They are heroes, really heroes," said tourist Tom Herlaar on Tuesday.
Inside the station, pieces of a fire truck that were recovered from the debris of the collapsed towers serve as a memento of the sacrifices made by emergency responders.
Nearly 10 years later, the firehouse's trucks have been replaced, firefighters have come and gone, but painful memories linger of the tragedy that unfolded just outside 124 Liberty Street's front door.
Firefighters say the death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was a long time coming, but victims' families said it doesn't minimize the pain.
"I miss him every day," said Jim Riches, a deputy firefighter whose son, also a first responder, died.
"There's no closure for us. My son's not going to come back," Riches said. "But the guy who murdered him and the guy that's been bragging that he did is gone and we don't have to worry about a trial or anything else. He was executed right there. That's the way it should have been."
New Yorkers deal with heightened security threat
Elsewhere in New York City, people say they believe the 9/11 attacks are a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy, despite warnings from the U.S. officials of an increased terrorist threat following bin Laden's death.
"I feel safe in New York," said Seth Wolff.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said bin Laden's death might inspire homegrown extremists in the U.S., but many people in the hustle and bustle of Times Square Tuesday said they weren't phased by it.
Vicki Douglas, of Queens, said she didn't think twice about hitting the Square with her 10-year-old daughter.
"I'm not afraid. This is New York. We're resilient. We don't live in fear," she said. "I'm confident in our law enforcement community."
Still, others look back on a failed car bombing attempt one year ago.
On May 1, 2010, authorities intercepted a smoking bomb hidden in an SUV in the heart of Times Square. Faisal Shahzad, a convicted terrorist, was arrested by the FBI in connection with the botched bombing, but authorities said the explosive could have caused mass casualties and injuries.
Laura Lee Summerhill remembers that day. She works in Times Square promoting Broadway shows right across the street from the failed car bombing.
"It was a bit of a scary day, you know? Lots of deep breaths," Summerhill said. "It's good to protect yourself and just be aware of your surroundings, (but) live your life, too."
Visitors from around the world pay respects at site of fallen towers
Across the street from Firehouse Ten, tourists from all over the world visit ground zero. Listening tours offered in a variety of languages help guide visitors through the sights and sounds of that horrific day.
"When you see something like this, it's terrible. It's crazy," said Herlaar.
He said it makes him happy that bin Laden was finally found.
"I was almost crying," Herlaar said after taking the audio tour. "I was hating (bin Laden) when I saw it, and I am glad he is dead."