3/19/13 | 12:30:05 PM; by Dena Patrick; Founder, Wishadoo.org
“They were feeling helpless, and that’s the worst feeling in the world. I told my wife, ‘I have to do something. I am going to take the Amberjack to the city and help. I have to do what I have to do. Nobody can stop me right now. Even if I save one person or rescue one person, that’s one person less who will suffer and die.'” Vincent Ardolino; Captain, Amberjack V
On September 11th, 2001, as hundreds of thousands fled south from the burning towers, people quickly discovered something we often forget: that Manhattan is an island. As officials closed all bridges, tunnels and commuter lines linking Manhattan to the rest of the world, people were trapped.
The little-told story of what happened next is the focus of a documentary short film (see video below), BOATLIFT, narrated by Tom Hanks. The film premiered at the Center for National Policy’s 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary Summit, in Washington, D.C.
BOATLIFT is the story of the largest maritime evacuation in history.
On 9/11, over 500,000 people were rescued from Manhattan’s seawalls in just nine hours. This is the story of the resilience of the every day people at the scene that day, and the brave community who sail the waters of New York’s Harbor.
As the buildings fell, hundreds of boats of all types rushed towards the disaster. They did so at great personal risk. These heroes pushed their boats into the harbor, and filled over and over with dazed passengers. That the evacuation was unplanned and unrehearsed is remarkable. But what is even more impressive is that not a single person was injured in the process.
The story of the 9/11 boatlift is a reminder of the sense of shared purpose and resilience that pervaded New York – and the world – in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
It is also a reminder of how helping one another, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming suffering is how we survive and thrive. One person, one step at a time. As Mr. Ardolino said: Even if I save one person or rescue one person, that’s one person less who will suffer and die.
Many around the world are frightened and feel alone, in despair. The world does not feel safe; they don’t know how they are to survive from day to day. This is true in the United States and all countries around the world.
We need to come together for a global boatlift.
In these modern times, with myriad forms of communication at the fingertips of so many, there is no need for anyone to feel so desperately alone and hopeless.
We each have something to offer the world, even if we are suffering ourselves. Every single person has the capacity to offer empathy and moral support. That is priceless, and it may open the floodgate to the many other ways we can be of service to one another without realizing it.
It is a choice. Do you choose love or fear? The mariners shepherding survivors on 9/11/01 chose love and compassion, in spite of their own fear.
One person at a time. Reach out to one person at a time, and allow others to reach out to you as well. Surely we can come together to rise above the current challenges and create a new way forward, a way of compassion, cooperation and authentic community. We must embrace the better angels of our nature and be of good courage, knowing we are not alone.
I invite you to join others who believe in the power of community and have faith in Humanity, and know that we can do better.
Are you ready? Please visit www.wishadoo.org