Lieutenant William Keegan speaking to the audience.
On Tuesday evening, June 12, a group of Port Washington residents attended a presentation in the Hagedorn meeting room of the library to hear a firsthand account of the September 11 tragedy by Lt. William Keegan as described in his recently released book Closure. The presentation was opened by co-author Bart Davis, who described his collaboration with Lt. Keegan and made a case for more information to be disseminated on 9/11. One telling reason for this is the fact that we are approaching the point where more fatalities are recorded resulting indirectly from 9/11, including a markedly higher suicide rate, than the toll from the actual event.
At the time of the attack, Lieutenant William Keegan was the commander of the Port Authority Police's Special Operations Division. This unit is called to respond to the most hazardous occurrences under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Lt. Keegan offered his reflections on the 3,000 hours he spent after the 9/11 attack at Ground Zero. For his efforts, he was awarded the Port Authority's highest medal for valor.
Keegan described to a small but spellbound audience the events he experienced that day. Shortly after 9 a.m. on September 11, he received a notification that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. He received the call while attending a doctor's appointment for a member of his family. His thoughts mirrored those of others - a small plane had struck one of the towers. When the second plane struck, he realized the nation was under attack. He immediately returned home, packed a bag and headed toward Ground Zero. As he drove up the New Jersey Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel, he saw the cloud of dust from the collapse of the first tower. His thoughts raced back to the first bombing in 1993, which occurred while he was on the 43rd floor of the tower in which the bomb was detonated in the basement parking garage. For years afterward he was reminded of repeated promises made by many that the towers wouldn't come down.
Lt. Keegan continued his presentation with a moving account of his reactions and that of those around him, both rescue workers and the general population, as they came to grips with the enormity of the situation. Many thought that despite the collapse, there were pockets of people secreted in the building awaiting rescue. He movingly spoke of rescue workers and civilians alike exhibiting the same motivation, the willingness and the desire of people to help other people.
At the conclusion of the session, a question from the audience stated that many no longer appreciated the tragedy and why wasn't more done to show the general population of this country all of the horrors of that day including that of people throwing themselves out of windows. Lt. Keegan cautioned that showing these sensational news accounts was not advisable because many who lost loved ones have no idea how they died and exposing them to this would only serve to relive the trauma. The meeting concluded with a book-signing by Lt. Keegan for those who purchased Closure.