They Paved Over the Dead

They paved over the dead…

…and a few decided to just leave them there.

No matter what you have heard to the contrary, more than five years after 9/11, the Deutsche Bank building has not been fully searched. The city’s official spokespeople are playing word games and many in the media are their echo chambers. When the South Tower fell, massive amounts of debris fell on and into that building, leaving huge beams precariously hanging out over Cedar Street and a twenty floor gouge in the building’s north face. When the first big crane approached nearby West and Liberty, the ground shook beneath it. They smartly backed off and engineers soon determined that the bathtub’s walls adjacent West and Liberty Streets were unstable. If they had collapsed, the Hudson River might have flooded the Pit and much of Manhattan’s rail lines, power grid, and water and sewer systems.

Ground Zero viewed 9 12 2001 from West and Liberty Streets

That did not stop the FDNY. They climbed inside the Deutsche Bank, crawled where they could, and conducted what all that I have spoken with described as a hands-on, visual inspection. While they were accustomed to moving within dangerous places, environmental tests showed extreme levels of toxins. On September 17, 2001, one day after the photo below was taken, they were ordered out. They cursed aloud, swore oaths to return, and repositioned.

the north facade of the Deutsche Bank building September 16 2001

When it was safer, heavy cranes pulled the steel from the building’s facade and removed what they could reach from the outside. The building was draped with a heavy, transparent shroud to contain the materials inside and someone hung the sign in the photograph below. It was still there one year after 9/11.

We will never forget them. We will never forget you

The sign is gone now but not the sentiment. We will never forget the grunts of Ground Zero, those magnificent men and women who endured so much, knocked down that Pile, left no stone in the Pit unturned, and brought so many out to us. Their loyalty and love cost many of them their physical health; it cost none of them their honor.

Mayor Bloomberg has been conned. He has been persuaded to place in charge of the renewed search the same agencies that paved over the dead and callously left them there for five years.

Yet the grunts of Ground Zero have not forgotten the fallen or what they saw down there. If you were there and, like a growing list of witnesses, can provide information that will help bring the fallen from that place, please email me, Tim Sumner, at

I also know the meaning of the word ‘honor’ and whether we talk on or off the record will be entirely up to you.

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