New York City, Friday, Sept. 21

Digging from the rubble

“I’ve been here since last Tuesday. It’s all body parts, a lot of stuff. I pulled out a couple of fire workers that were alive on Tuesday. I pulled out some police Tuesday night. It was before they got down there with burners, and they could burn people out.

“I’ve done others [rescue efforts], but it doesn’t compare at all. There are bodies mangled up and body parts all over the place.

“And the rain didn’t help.

“I’m on my third pair of boots in two weeks. I’ve been living down here. I came down here with $16, and I still have $16.

“They’ve given me clothes, food, a place to sleep. I work 16 hours a day. You want to help somebody else who’s been out there too.

“I get up at 5:30 and work till eight. I went home one time to see my daughter since day one.

“There’s a lot of stress, a lot of stress. You have to put yourself in another mood. I’ll find an arm, a leg, a foot, and put it in a bag and give it to someone else to put it in a refrigerator.

“You have to think about things that put you in a happy mood. I think about my children, the fun times. People gotta do what they gotta do. There’s nothing here for me but to help people.

“My insurance is paid up. If I die tomorrow I’m going to heaven. I’m going to stay till it’s built back up again.

“People are cremated in there. We dig up people and don’t know it.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That the way it goes.

“But this is the U.S. We’ll be all right. We’ll prevail.”

–Michael Frank, volunteer rescue worker,

Greenwich Avenue

A father’s desperation

“It’s an unreal feeling. I don’t know how to be feeling or how I’m gonna feel.

“You sleep bad at night. Sometimes you don’t sleep so bad. Most of the time you sleep in terror. Most of the time you don’t want to sleep.

“You think maybe he’ll call or show up. I hope beyond all hope he’ll be in a hospital. Unless I see his body, I’ll hope. Everyone is still hoping beyond all hope. I still have hope my son will be found. I’m not going into his apartment or plan a memorial. I’ve been going to certain events. I’m still looking for my child.

“He was a beautiful young man. Smart. He worked for the New York state tax enforcement office. He was FBI trained.

“He never got in a fight at school. He never got in a fight, period. This time of terror was the first thing he experienced, the first bad thing that happened to him.

“I went downtown to the New York tax enforcement office. They invited the families of people who worked there. It’s hard when you see another man and his two children. They lost their mother.

“Another lost her husband. Another lost a son. All of us were crying.

“It’s a deep hurt. The scars are never healed. The only thing we can do for the people who were hurt is to make them heroes.

“The people who led this attack didn’t want them all to be heroes.

“I’ve been home, listening to the phone. There were over 170 calls. My son had lots of friends. He ran the Slam Jam Women’s basketball league. He helped a lot of young women go to college.

“That was supportive the first day.

“I don’t know how strong I can be to carry on. I can’t let hope out. Everything he stood for. If I don’t keep his work going the people flying the planes will have won as far as he is concerned.

“Some say you never get over it. I never will. My life will never be the same. I worked with my son. I haven’t done anything concrete since except go to some memorial events.

“My wife is holding up pretty good. I have two boys and they are holding up pretty good too. The father’s supposed to be the strongest and it looks like I’m the weakest one. The father is supposed to be the leader of the family, but I think I have the reverse situation.

“My friends rallied around me. They’ve been picking up the slack.

“That gave me strength. Strength in family, friends. People call for you, they care about you. If anyone knows anyone they know has someone missing without a large family or friends, call them. Give them all a large family. Though the U.S. has become a caring family.”

–Clyde Frazier Sr., Union Square Park

Dealing with reality

“I woke up because people were screaming on the street, but I had to go outside to see it. I was just in shock.

“Some people were crying. Then I saw masses of people walking up the West Side Highway. No cars, just people. It was like I was living in a movie.

“After everyone was evacuated, people were just in shock. And basically everything stopped.

“When the buildings collapsed strangers were hugging each other.

“I feel like I can’t do much so I should get on with my life. But it feels weird just to eat.

“If I wasn’t here, I don’t even know if I’d believe that the buildings are gone.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I wake up and it’s still true.”

–Lillian Kass, New York University student