The first book to chronicle the cleanup of the World Trade Center site from 9/11 through its closing ceremony, told by Lieutenant William Keegan of the Port Authority Police Department—one of the four operations commanders at the site—as he comes to his own closure with the tragedy.
On the morning of 9/11, the Port Authority Police Department was the first uniformed service to respond to the attack on the World Trade Center. When the towers collapsed, thirty-seven of its officers were killed—the largest loss of law enforcement officers in U.S. history.
That afternoon, Lieutenant William Keegan began the work of recovery. The FDNY and NYPD had the territory, but Keegan had the map. PAPD cops could stand on top of six stories of debris and point to where a stairwell had been; they used PATH tunnels to enter "the pile" from underneath. Closure shares many never-before-told stories, including how Keegan and his officers recovered one-thousand tons of gold and silver from a secret vault to keep the Commodities Exchange from crashing; discovered what appeared to be one of the plane's black boxes; and helped raise the inspirational steel beam cross that has become the site's icon.
For nine brutal months, the men at Ground Zero wrestled with 1.8 million tons of shattered concrete, twisted steel, body parts, political pressure, and their own grief. Closure tells the unforgettable story of their sacrifice and valor, and how Keegan led the smallest of all the uniformed services at the site to become the most valuable.
What makes this personal account of the post-9/11 recovery effort at the World Trade Center site particularly moving is the willingness of Keegan, an operation commander at the site, to delve into unsettling issues. The 20-year Port Authority Police Department veteran understandably lauds the work of his fellow NYPD and FDNY officers as they sifted the rubble from the terrorist attacks: "In the midst of hell we found the face of God," he writes. But he freely discusses the emotional strain of looking, day after day, for bodies or parts of bodies of the victims, many of them colleagues and friends. At the same time, Keegan is critical of the therapists sent to counsel the workers as "too eager and intrusive," aggressively pursuing those who simply wanted to be alone for a few minutes. He also discusses his campaign to win public recognition for PAPD recovery workers, who had a much lower profile than those of the NYPD and fire department. In the end, his efforts succeeded: it was Port Authority officers who raised the steel-beam cross that became the site's symbol. Only those made of something stronger than steel will fail to be deeply moved by this book. 16 pages of b&w photos.