Performing Tribute 9/11, Ordinary People, Remarkable Stories, weaves together the perspectives of six individuals who were separately yet directly impacted by the events of 9/11. Cast pictured above, from left to right is: Paul McFaddin, Desiree Bouchat, Ann Van Hime, Gail Langsner, , Bridget Damiano and Gerry Bogacz.
Gerry Bogacz – works for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and was on the 82nd floor of North Tower in both the 1993 and September 11th attacks.
His words: From the 43rd floor sky lobby I went down stairwell B and came out in the concourse level near the underground mall. I went through the turnstiles near the elevators and out the revolving doors to the concourse. There was water coming down from above and there was debris all over the floor of the lobby. I looked to my left and saw a person in the concourse with a video camera. We were led out past the PATH station, around by the E stations and up to Borders and out onto Church Street. There was one female cop there and I remember seeing a photograph of her later in that location. People were yelling “Don’t look back, keep moving!” which made a lot of sense because there was so many people behind us. I walked about half a block and I did look back and was astounded to see both towers on fire although strangely I don’t remember the smoke just the flames. I was thinking that part of the plane may have bounced off and hit Tower 2. And then I just needed to get to phone to let my family know that I wasn’t dead. I was really scared that my daughter, who was 9 years old at the time, was seeing this same image on television and did not know how I was.
Desiree Bouchat – is a consultant with Aon Corporation and is a survivor of the South Tower.
Her words: My desk was on the south side of the South Tower. When the plane hit the North Tower this is what I heard, boom, nothing louder, just boom. The lights flickered and my computer went off and then back on. People started to joke that we forgot to pay the utility bill again. Outside burnt paper started swirling around and my phone rang. A friend of mine at 7 WTC called to ask me if I was okay. I said, “yes, why?”
Bridget Damiano – lost her cousin, Joseph Pick, in the South Tower on September 11th. She was also a volunteer with the Salvation Army from September 2001 until the end of the recovery in May 2002.
Her words: My friend Rita’s father suggests that instead of being angry I should use that energy and volunteer for the Salvation Army. I go in for an interview and they ask me what talent I have. Talent? I have no talent. I can’t think of anything. Finally I say ‘Well, I’m Italian. I can cook.”
Gail Langsner – is a resident of Lower Manhattan and lived on the 12th Floor of an apartment building on Liberty Street opposite the South Tower. On the morning of September 11th, she was out voting at her local high school when the first plane hit the North Tower. Gail was not able to return to her home for over fifteen months after the attacks.
Her words: When the second plane came in and hit we ran to the windows in time to see the fire ball and a lot of debris falling off the building. We thought we’re on the top floor and something is going to come through the roof. We’ll be safer if we go lower down in the building. I make my living as a pet sitter and I only take care of birds, so we packed up the 8 birds and went down to our friends on the third floor. We were sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out what to do when my neighbor looked out the window and saw the top of the South Tower start to tilt and screamed to get in the back room. We ran into their back room which has no windows and basically just prepared to die.
Paul McFadden – is a retired firefighter who worked in Rescue 2 in Brooklyn and was involved in the rescue and recovery effort after September 11th.
His words: When I got home I found out that I had lost 46 of my friends. I lost true friends or my friends sons. People who you flipped burgers with and drank beer with. When I realized I could not save my friends I felt that telling my story and the story of 9/11 was a way to save their memories. I couldn’t save them but I can save their memories.
Kate Richardson – lost her husband, firefighter Bob McPadden of Engine 23 on September 11th. Bob and Kate were in the process of moving to Pearl River, NY, days before September 11th and were married for 3 years. Kate has since remarried and has two young sons. She is Assistant Professor of Management at Pace University.
Her words: I try to go to sleep but I can’t so I turn on the TV and I see the end of a press conference with Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Von Essen of the fire department. It’s a little after 11pm and they announce that over 300 firefighters are missing. And when I hear that number that’s when I know that Bob is probably gone and everything has just changed forever.
Fred Sager – is an electrical foreman at the Javits Convention Center and a volunteer firefighter in Great Neck, NY. He responded to the Trade Center on September 12th as a rescue worker and worked there until May 2002.
His words: When you’re a fireman, you’re a fireman first no matter what else you do. I’ll be the first to admit that firefighters are a very quirky bunch. We would walk a mile in our bare feet to see a garbage can burning. There was no way you were going to keep any firefighter from responding to the scene on September 11th. Ironically, I drove my wife’s car into the city that day. In my own car I keep an extra set of gear and I would have responded but didn’t, since I didn’t have my own car. I decided to ride home with my co-worker Mike who lives nearby. It’s only an 18 mile ride to where I live on Long Island and with no traffic it takes about 20 minutes. I was waiting outside for Mike, and I see a women walk around the corner from the West Side Highway. She’s in her 30’s and she looks a little out of it. She’s covered in dust and I ask her where she’s going. It turns out she lives about a mile from where Mike and I live so I offer her a ride. She tells me her name is Jake.
Ann Van Hine – was married to Bruce Van Hine, who was killed in the line of duty on September 11th. Bruce worked as a firefighter for Squad 41 in the Bronx.
Her words: I had stopped by my dance school to check messages and got back in the car and now I know that it was about 5 after 9 and I turned the radio on and heard that a plane had hit one of the trade centers. I personally thought what kind of ding-a-ling would do that because it was a beautiful day and they were saying it was a small plane. And then as I put the car into reverse they announced that another plane hit. And as I got on the highway to head home there was an announcement over the radio for all firefighters to report for duty. My husband, Bruce, was already on duty but I knew that the fire department does not issue total recalls and that they had never done something like that. I just thought OK we’re at war.
Ray Habib – was husband to , Barbara, a Senior V.P at Marsh & McLennan for almost thirty years. Her primary office was in Midtown Manhattan but on September 11th she was attending a meeting at the Marsh & McLennan offices on the 99th floor of the North Tower.
His words: It hit me just last year, on the 9th anniversary. I was attending a small memorial service in Staten Island and I realized that I am a part of this story, this 9/11 story. I didn’t choose to be but I am.
Anthony Palmeri – worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation for 23 years. After September 11th he volunteered to work the recovery at the site.
His words: Today you probably did more for me and everyone else here then we did for you because we need to talk about this to heal inside. And tonight you have allowed me to heal inside that much more. We must remember the people we lost but we must also remember all the good things that people did for others after 9/11 and keep doing them.