First responders who survived 9/11 don’t want the day to be forgotten.

9/11 Heroes: Surviving the Biggest Attack on U.S. Soil

Producer: Rebecca Liss
Sr. Producer: Scott Michels

Seconds after the World Trade Center towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by terrorists flying two hijacked planes, New York City mounted the largest rescue effort in its history. More than 2,000 emergency responders were dispatched to lower Manhattan.

As the twin towers smoldered, rescue workers rushed in, trying to help the more than 16,000 people still inside. New York City police officers Bill Beaury and Mark DeMarco entered the North Tower with their team and began to climb the stairs.

“We’re running into other people,” Officer DeMarco told Retro Report for this new documentary video. “I said – Just follow the wall down. When you get outside, try not to panic, I said. But run.”

Firefighters and police officers worked frantically to evacuate the towers, but within minutes the lights went out, the building went dark and ceiling panels began to fall, Officer Beaury told us. It was clear that the tower was coming down.

“It sounded like a freight train going by,” Officer DeMarco said.

The shock of the collapse set in immediately. Seeing the towers come down in a matter of seconds, Officer DeMarco said, “was just mind-boggling.”

For these men and many other emergency workers, the trauma of that day lingers in many ways: in physical ailments from breathing toxic dust, in grief for more than 400 colleagues who were killed that day, and in feelings of guilt for having survived.

“What I always try to tell people about that day is that there were so many heroes,” NYPD officer Dan McNally told us.

Transcript Lesson Plan