Vanadia

NYC Stories

James P. Lamb

I was on my way to the city on the morning of September 11th.  I was on the 8:59 train to Penn Station.  At about 9:20, I overheard the gentlemen next to me exclaim “what do you mean a plane hit the twin towers” as he spoke into his cell phone.  It was clear that he wanted me and all in hearing distance to hear the news. What came next was utterly incomprehensible for we knew exactly what that meant.  A second plane meant it clearly was no accident. As my numbness grew, an attack on the Pentagon 30 minutes or so later put everything in perspective.  This was clearly terrorism.  This was war.

I worked at 2 WTC, 87th Floor 2 years ago at this time.  I left my position as a state tax investigator in March 2000 to take a private sector job with a high tech Internet company at 11 Broadway, just a few blocks south of the WTC site. All I could think of is how I could have been there; how I was in the wrong place but at the RIGHT time.  I would later find out that some of my former coworkers got out in time.  I would also learn that a number of people that I knew were still in the building when it collapsed, people still today referred to as “missing”.

I worked from home for the next 9 days as my office—which essentially was relocated to midtown in June—remained closed.  I worked in between being glued to CNN and watching over and over again that second plane collide with what I knew had to be near the floor on which I used to work.  I knew that many of my former co-workers had to have been there at that moment as they were telling people to stay put. I was thrust back in time to being in my old office looking out of the windows at planes, imagining the horror of seeing that plane coming right at me.  I returned to the site last Thursday as I had to see it in person, had to be there.  There are simply no words.

Being a grown man, I do not cry often.  I cried that day and a number of days thereafter.  As with every other New Yorker, numbness turned to sorrow, and now sorrow to anger.  When I heard Don McLean’s American Pie last Sunday in my car on my way home from a friend’s Bachelor Party (it was tough to be jovial) in Albany, I knew I had to express and share my feelings in a song. I wrote as I drove. I am not a professional songwriter by any means.  At best, I’m a washed-up Karaoke goer that had one last need to have others hear me sing.

The lyrics of ‘Freedom Will Survive’ are meant to help all those trying to deal with the tragedy cope and grasp the future that awaits us.  I invite any and all Americans to substitute these words for Don’s words, the next time they hear American Pie on the radio, the next time they find themselves in a Karaoke bar.  If money could be raised as a result, I would be proud. However, if the words bring any where near that comfort to just one person who lost a loved one, friend or co-worker that Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” has brought to me, then that would be my greatest reward.

God Bless the USA, indeed, and all of our citizens.
I am confident that Freedom WILL survive.

————————

Inspired by "American Pie"
by Don McLean.

It was not long ago…
I can still remember
how those towers used to scrape the sky
We thought we were safe from harm
We were at peace, and all was calm
and we never thought we’d have to say goodbye
But September made us quiver
Up in the sky, over the river
Two planes hit our towers
Piloted by cowards
I know that on that day I cried
When I heard that thousands of us died
Something touched me deep inside
The President said Freedom will survive.

So, wave your Flag
and hold it up high
‘cause that Flag stands for Freedom
and Freedom’s alive
Our good old boys
are on their way to front lines
Singing "We’ll make sure that Freedom survives,
We’ll make sure that Freedom survives".

Did you watch it on TV?
or were you in the city just like me?
or near the Pentagon that day?
Now, do you believe in the USA?
Did you hear what George Bush had to say?
Stand with us or you will share their fate
Well, we lost our Heroes on that day
in New York, Washington, PA
But Justice will be done
We’ll make those cowards run
We’re gonna round them up
we’re gonna smoke them out
Yeah, we’ll close those camps
I have no doubt
Usama, man, your luck’s run out
and Freedom will survive.
And we’ll be singing…

Wave your Flag
and hold it up high
‘cause that Flag stands for Freedom
and Freedom’s alive
Our good old boys
are fighting on the front lines
Singing "We’ll make sure that Freedom survives,
We’ll make sure that Freedom survives".

Wave your Flag
and hold it up high
‘cause that Flag stands for Freedom
and Freedom’s alive
Our good old boys
are fighting on the front lines
Singing "We’ll make sure that Freedom survives,
We’ll make sure that Freedom survives".

Copyright, James P. Lamb, 2001.

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