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This was a man

Posted by Richard on June 10, 2005

I’ve added a "Remember Rick Rescorla" link to my sidebar. Clicking it takes you to a post at Mudville Gazette. Originally from 2003, Greyhawk reposted it this past Memorial Day weekend.

It’s long. It’s a must read. Be prepared for tears.

I discovered Greyhawk’s account of the Rick Rescorla story thanks to a post by Blackfive about the America-haters’ plans for Ground Zero (which I blogged about here). Rescorla is the soldier on the cover of the book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, on which the Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers is based. The Mudville Gazette story of this hero begins with his role in the Ia Drang Valley battle described in the book. But it doesn’t end there.

On September 11, 2001, Rick Rescorla was the vice president of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, with an office on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center south tower. He was responsible for the safety of more than 2600 Morgan Stanley employees on 22 floors, and he took that responsibility seriously. Minutes after the first plane struck the north tower, he called his old Army friend and former associate, Dan Hill:

"Are you watching TV?" he asked. "What do you think?"

"Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can’t see a commercial airliner getting that far off."

"I’m evacuating right now," Rescorla said.

Rescorla came back on the phone. "Pack a bag and get up here," he said. "You can be my consultant again." He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

"What’d you say?" Hill asked.

"I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’ " Rescorla replied. "Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the fuck out of here."

Rescorla got over 2600 Morgan Stanley employees out of the building safely. Only five died, including Rescorla and two of his security officers. Minutes before the building collapsed, Rescorla headed back up the stairs to search for stragglers.

Greyhawk was right — this Shakespeare quote is appropriate:

"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!’"

Go read the whole story. Be sure to sign the online petition Greyhawk links to asking President Bush to award Rescorla the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Spend some time in the comments, too; Rescorla’s widow and a number of men who served with him have commented. Many others have left eloquent and touching remarks, such as this:

A country isn’t its lakes or forrests.
A country isn’t the colour of its citizen’s skins.

A country is the values from which it sprang.
A country is the values it upholds.
Patriotism is the defence of those values.

Rick Rescorla was a english.
Patriot and american in spirit and in action.

I hope that in some small way, despite being swedish, I too may some day claim that I have been a patriot american. Because those are the values and the spirit I fight to uphold.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story about Rick Rescorla, the hero.

Posted by: Xipe at September 9, 2003 04:28 PM

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