“I stepped into the elevator. I had my tools with me -– bucket, water, some rags, squeegee. When I stepped into the elevator there were five men inside the elevator. The door closed normally and we went up, and in a few minutes the elevator was going down, it was shaking from side to side, banging. And I said, ‘Something’s wrong!'”
Yes, a terrible thing was wrong. The elevator door opened not to a hallway, but to a wall. Six men were trapped, including a window washer. The entire building had been rearranged by the plane that had hit the Twin Tower on September 11. 2001.
These were the words of John Demczur, who had emigrated to the United States from Poland at the age of 27. He wanted to build a good life for himself and his family. He was not fearful of climbing out on his scaffold thousands of feet above the ground.
John continues. “I was asking for a knife, but nobody had anything. Then I looked into my bucket and I said, ‘Well, let me use my squeegee’. How I have this idea… Just instinct, do something, try to do something.”
Using the squeegee, which is a thin rubber blade with a metal handle, he dug a hole in the drywall. It seemed like a long time before they could knock through to drywall and then the tile on the other side. It turned out to be a bathroom on the 50th floor. This was their way to freedom and eventually out of the building before the tower collapsed.
“I still doesn’t know anything about why this happened, who did this, I’m looking for another building and I don’t see this building. My brain stopped working. After that I just wanted to be with my family, with my children and wife, my head was just focused – be with the family.”
John was not the only window washer going to work that September morning. The smiling face of a window washer, dangling from the scaffold outside the windows of the world trade centers, could be seen by many people working their jobs inside. Some would say “Good morning” or give a wave. It is hard to imagine doing this job outside from 101 floors above the ground. Yet, they did it. High above the street of New York, other window washers worked with their squeegees. They went down with the towers that morning…that terrible morning.
John had placed his squeegee in his pocket as he rushed from the Trade Center. It wasn’t until his story was told that a representative from the Smithsonian Institute came to him asking if the squeegee could be placed in the museum as an artifact of American history. It was only a simple squeegee, but by using it as a tool , for which it was never made, six lives were saved.
Ten years will have passed this September 11, 2011. Will we go our usual way that day? Will we stop to remember that this was an attack on our country and our people?
This is not a time to be “politically correct”. It was what it was and caused by those with great hate in their hearts for America and Americans.
In this deliberate act, people were murdered from every part of the world; with every religious belief and with hopes for the future which they were not given the chance to fulfill.
We must not forget the heroes of that day and those who still suffer from digging through the rubble. We also must not forget that it was not only New York, but the Pentagon and in the countryside of Pennsylvania. It was the men and women taking a flight that did not get them to their destination. The terror that was felt by those who for a split second or for many minutes knew it was their last is hard to imagine. We do not forget them.
Thanks to the use of a simple squeegee and a man who thought to use it, six people are alive to remember those who did not have that opportunity.
This video is of two window washers and their scaffold on the Twin Towers. (Home video in another New York building) http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/SBIthneRkE0