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4 Stories

Memorial Day in America is supposed to be a time to remember those who have died in our wars, and to thank them for their sacrifice. However, for many of us, Memorial Days does not mean much more than a three-day weekend, and perhaps some flag-waving and parades. I wanted this piece to serve as a counterpoint in which veterans from World War One, World War Two, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the First Gulf War actually remember and speak about someone they personally knew who died alongside them in combat – who were they, what were their names, how did they die, how did they live?

The soldily middle class town of Middletown New Jersey is a peaceful suburb populated largely by people who left the city for a quieter life of green lawns and Little League. Many residents work in Manhattan and take the ferry or the New Jersey Transit train home. On September 11th 2001, upwards of 45 residents lost their lives in the World Trade Center, devastating the town, which tried to cope and help its own. This is a profile of several residents and officials soon afterward.

It is followed by a mini-doc of similar length which I made near the first anniversary of September 11th 2001 in which I interviewed many of the same people, in order to chart and report on their trajectory of continued grief and healing.

A Dateline report recorded about two months into 2002 with the work crews tasked with clearing the debris from Ground Zero, sorting through it for human remains, and making it ready to be put on barges to be floated for disposal in Fresh Kill. The stress, sadness and nobility of the men there were quite amazing.

I was living in Washington at the time of the September 11th 2001 attacks, but was able to get the first train into Manhattan when the island opened on the morning of September 12th. I worked 17 hours a day in the week following, chronicling the human impact of the World Trade Center attacks on the city I love and have always loved. This story was one of several I filed in those first days.

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