NEW YORK In the steady drizzle, a large America flag flutters in the breeze from its perch atop a twisted and charred iron beam. Among the ash and debris of what once was the World Trade Center, a kaleidoscope of emotions chief among them patriotism and duty swirl in the vortex of the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attack.
While President Bush addressed the legions of rescue workers, the New York National Guard manned the perimeter at Canal Street set up on the southern tip of Manhattan island. The scene mixes the genres of a war zone and the post-apocalyptic peace of the dead.
"The streets are quieter. Traffic is blocked. There is no sports or soap operas," said Jason Henry, a 20-year-old delivery clerk at a local delicatessen. "I sort of like the quiet, but not the reason behind the quiet."
Henry said that on Wednesday night, he was "making a delivery at the Empire State Building. There must have been a bomb threat and they evacuated the building. The authorities told us to run all the way over to the East River. I thought they'd found a small atomic bomb or something."
However, the bomb threat proved to be a false one, and Henry had gone into hiding at the East River for nothing. "Better safe than sorry," he said.
Talk on the streets of New York is, as one would expect, filled with many diverse opinions, theories on the terrorists and other gossip. Many of those interviewed by WorldNetDaily openly wondered if the downed plane in Pennsylvania was headed for the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Others speculated that a draft would be implemented to provide the ground troops needed for a massive ground war in the Middle East.
Mayor Rudy Guliani took to the airwaves to denounce opportunistic phone callers making calls around the city to ask for donations for the firemen and policemen. No such official donation program exists, said Guliani at a press conference. Another woman had called the New York Police, given a real badge number and said that her policeman husband had called her on his cell phone to say that he and nine other cops were buried at a certain place in the rubble. Rescue workers dug through the night before uncovering nothing but a hoax.
"It's really hard to believe that there are such low-lifes out there in this city," said Mario Massinio, a volunteer rescue worker from Long Island. "Still, these vultures are a drop in the bucket when compared to the heroic actions of millions of Americans during this crisis."
Make no mistake: The heroes standing in the gap at the World Trade Center ground-zero area are legion.
Take Mitch Jenkins, a carpenter from Bowie, Md., who was moved by a story he saw on NBC Nightly News about a San Francisco man who lost his wife in the rubble. "I saw a certain segment the other night," Jenkins told WND, "about a beautiful young couple. The wife had come to New York for one day to give a presentation at a technology conference. After the first plane hit the tower, she called her husband in San Francisco. It was only 6 a.m. on the West Coast. She said, "I love you" and goodbye on their answering machine. The husband was asleep. He waited two days to get a private jet to fly him to the East Coast to look for her, but there were no flights allowed.
"When I saw he was trapped out West and was unable to come to New York to try and find his wife," said Jenkins, "I packed a bag, organized some food, jumped in my van and drove to Manhattan to start looking for her. I think I can remember her face from the NBC news segment."
The police and firemen, New York's finest and bravest, have never been held in higher esteem in the city that never sleeps.
"I have never seen men that work like this. They are so brave. Real tough guys," a Canadian Royal Policeman told WorldNetDaily. At the policeman's side was Max, a specially trained German Shepherd assisting in the search for survivors. The dog sported a red, white and blue color in the style of an American flag.
Through the day, WorldNetDaily spoke with a plethora of fireman, policemen and rescue workers. During a lunch break, a few firemen munched on gourmet food prepared by a local culinary school while discussing the attack. A few of them discussed Nostradamus' prophecies and wondered if one Quatrain had predicted the attack. Others spoke about prophecies in the Book of Revelation and speculated about whether the terrorist attack would spark World War III.
Pamela Green, a stewardess from the island of St. Martin, trapped in New York by the travel ban, told WND, "You know, I believe that Satan is really making his mark now and that the great nation of the United States of America will someday fall.
Those who have destroyed so many hundreds of human lives, as well as committed suicide for doing so, will have to pay big time in God's world.
The Almighty God is looking out for each one of us, and I pray that we follow his righteous path. We should not be afraid to die in his name. Oh my goodness, I sound like a fanatical Muslim for saying that!"
Missy Henderson, a waitress at a downtown café, said she came to the candlelight vigil of remembrance because she "wanted to show solidarity with them and their grieving families."
"I am in total shock," said Jeannine Johnston, a journalism master's degree candidate at Columbia University. "I cannot believe the World Trade Center is no more. Growing up in the New York area, I have seen the towers adorn the sky almost every day of my life. I was just about to leave my house when the planes hit the first building. I stuck my head out the window, saw the smoke, then grabbed my roller blades, camera, binoculars and radio and skated as fast as I could to the East River," she said.
"On the way there, I heard on my radio that the buildings had collapsed. I was so incredulous, I took a spill in the street, but bleeding and bruised, I carried on to the river. I spent the entire morning and afternoon there, taking pictures of clouds of smoke where the towers used to be. People usually meet me and say, You look like that actress Kim Basinger. Now they say, 'How did you get all cut up? Were you inside the World Trade Center when it was hit?' That makes me feel so much sadder for the real victims."
Carrie Tolan, who runs a Manhattan immigration office, said: "I think a big war is coming. Nuclear weapons will be used, perhaps by both America and Islamic fundamentalists. I can see FEMA enacting their legislation and that will mean the loss of the remaining civil liberties we have. Merle Haggard once said, 'I had more civil liberties when I was released from prison in 1960 as an ex-convict than I do today.'"
Mary Rose Girardi, who runs a local New York travel agency told WorldNetDaily that her company was unable to book flights by computer. "The mainframe we used was based in the World Trade Center," she said. "For now I can only book e-tickets and hand-written tickets. It's strange."
Finally, on a ferry to Long Island, one rescue worker, dressed in his gear and covered with soot, was asked by the conductor to pay full fare and a two-dollar penalty for not purchasing his ticket at Penn Station. No less than seven New Yorkers sitting nearby cursed the conductor before volunteering to pay the rescue worker's ticket. The conductor relented.
"What was I thinking?" the conductor told the hostile mini-crowd that had gathered around him. "This ride is free. This man is a hero."
And of course, the conductor was right.