six days at ground zero
sept 13 - 19, 2001
the trip so far...     contact kevin & aimee

 << Back to Day 15, Rhode Is.

Sept 11, 2001
The Pier
The Early Volunteers
Crossing the Hudson
First Sight
The Observation Room
Change of Priorities
The Scariest Night
Avoiding Detection
Selected Stories from GZ
Spirit of New York
More Stories from GZ
The OEM Arrives
The People
Back To The Real World
Thank You, To Everyone

Chronicle Journal, Sept 13
Personal Journal Documents Days Events

Chronicle Journal, Sept 17
Lakehead Grads in on Intense Volunteer Support Effort

NY Daily News, Sept 17
Camping at Ground Zero

Chronicle Journal, Sept 20
Hope, Horror Clearly Visible in New York

The True Spirit of New York
That evening, we were able to get nearly 8 hours of sleep on board the Spirit Cruise ship that had pulled up to our dock. The first two days we were in the area, we had no hot water and no hot food, except that which came over on the ferry from Jersey and was usually lukewarm by the time it arrived. There was also no water, so the toilets in the buildings would fill up with fireman-sized number-twos until someone had the common sense to bring a bucket to wash some of it down. It was pretty nasty. That is, until the ship showed up.

The Spirit Cruise ship used to circle the island and give tours to tourists. It was a little, three storey cruise with no sleeping cabins, but just the kind of thing to rent out for a wedding. They pulled in to the little harbour closest to the site and took care of everyone. It was such an incredibly selfless act for the owner of the ship to offer such a service at such a time of need. The bathrooms were kept clean, the food and coffee were hot and the staff all had clean clothes on with smiles on their faces, and nametags that said "Chefs with Spirit".

"Come on in, watch your step!" smiled the happy fellow stationed outside. "Hot food, cold drinks!" They made everyone feel like they had bought tickets and were going to leave a big tip, though they knew full well that this was a freebie.

I know that for us it was such a good feeling to have someone else take care of us like we'd been taking care of the rescue workers. While working for so many hours, we set aside our own frustrations and fears just to smile. By the time we arrived at the boat to either eat dinner or sleep at night, it almost moved us to tears that someone would just want to smile at us and show us where the blankets are, or even offer to get you a knife and fork if you forgot yours at the buffet table.

One night during dinner, Miss USO was on board. She was there to meet all of the men and try to cheer them up. At first it seemed a little hokey that she was there, and I joked around about saying I was Miss Supply Table and where's my sash. But when we saw the effect it had on the men we realized how great it was that she was there, like a benefit concert (where was Bob Hope?). She was sweeping from table to table, flirting with the boys and putting everyone in a better mood, which is what it's all about. We even joined in when she sang God Bless America. Well, we hummed along anyway.

In a strange way, being Miss Supply Table wasn't a total joke. Perhaps the most inspiring part of my job was to smile and be smiled at. It's hard to put into words, but what it felt like most was being a nurse in a wartime situation. Even though the men had only been working in the pit for a few days, their faces looked as though they had been in war for many years. It was pure weariness. So to be one of the few women in the area was a special duty. You could do just as much with a smile and a hug as you could with a cold drink. Quite often I had a sign on my back that said "Want a Hug? Ask me!" Throughout the day, firemen who sheepishly asked for a hug would stop me. I think it benefited them as much as it did me. I remember this one man who was smoking a cigar looking particularly weary. He gave me a hug and kissed the top of my head in a fatherly type fashion and seemed like he didn't want to let go.

Current Location
Spirit of New York

see the full map...

Your email address...

© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.