Ten Years Later: Air Traffic Controllers Remember 9/11 ( VIDEO) + Chinese Americans & 9/11: The Changed & Unchanged

This Sunday, our nation will mark a somber occasion, the tenth anniversary of September 11th. There is much to remember about that day–the thousands of lives lost and families upended, the life-saving first responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the heroes of United Airlines flight 93.

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration is sharing a video about the quick-thinking air traffic professionals who recognized that the errant blips on their radar screens posed a potential threat to every passenger on every plane in our skies that morning. In response, they were able to completely shut down U.S. airspace.

“The men and women who control air traffic in this country realized we were under attack on that terrible day and had the skill to quickly land thousands of planes,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “Ten years later we are still incredibly proud of their work.”

Air Traffic 9/11This is a radar view of US airspace on 9/11, before controllers took action.

Those controllers took an unprecedented situation and used their training and experience to bring those thousands of planes safely down and out of harm’s way.  They do an outstanding job every day, and we commend the decisive action they took on September 11th.

Air Traffic Planes Down 9/11US airspace later on 9/11, after the complete shutdown.

Ray LaHood is Secretary of the Department of Transportation.

Chinese Americans & 9/11: The Changed & Unchanged

NEW YORK — When I called Steven Wong last week for a story I was preparing for Sing Tao’s special edition of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I was hoping to find something that could reflect the strides of life.

Wong, a hotel bartender who used to work in the Marriott World Trade Center before the attacks now works for the Ritz Carlton. He started an organization called the Chinese Hotel Workers Association in 2007 to cater to the needs of the rapidly increasing Chinese new immigrants working in the hotel industry.

His members represent part of the transition Chinatown has been making since 9/11. The attacks largely terminated the traditional garment industry which new immigrants used to rely on to make a living. And now many of them have moved to other industries, with hospitality being a major one.

But Wong started by recalling the details of the doomed day–how he witnessed the collapse of the towers on his day off in Chinatown, how he fell on his knees on the street and cried, how he heard some colleagues were killed, how the survivors found jobs in other hotels when their own became a pile of dusts and ashes…

Then Wong must have realized my impatience and said: “Now, when I talk about 9/11, people always say hey, can you stop nagging? 9/11 was ten years ago. But to us who witnessed the tragedy, it is a pain in your heart forever.”

I joined Sing Tao Daily in 2002. The first 9/11 related story I covered was the re-opening of the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center. To me, 9/11 means more about rising from the ashes than the ashes themselves.

Ten years later, the 9/11 Memorial is opening. Downtown Manhattan is thriving. In Chinatown, which was severely impacted because of its adjacency to Ground Zero, a whole generation has grown up. And smiles reappear on the faces of victims’ family members. I have never doubted for a second that this is what the anniversary stories should be about.

But Wong did make me think these may not be the whole story. And it’s not hard to find the evidence.
Park Row, the main traffic artery in Chinatown which was closed by the city after 9/11 for security reasons, remains closed for political reasons despite the constant protests from the community.

Former garment workers who are now seeking jobs in other industries have found that their opportunities are limited because of their language barrier. And community organizations who used to provide free English classes held their last classes in July because of the funding cuts from the state and city governments.

A police officer who served at the 5th precinct in Chinatown and was dispatched to the Trade Center site during the attacks has just died from lung cancer. And the city insists his death is not related to 9/11 and has therefore refused to compensate his family.

Most news media including my own will focus on the progress that has been made in the past ten years in their anniversary coverage. This is a wise angle from the perspective of journalism. Still, the unsolved problems may at least deserve one or two paragraphs. Life has moved on. But the old wounds shouldn’t be overlooked when we are looking for hope.


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