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CNN Larry King Weekend
Stories of 9-11
Aired September 08, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, nearly one year after September 11, we share stories of sorrow and strength, heartbreak and healing. With me live tonight in New York, CBS News anchor Dan Rather. And joining us, Lorie Van Auken. Her husband, Kenneth, was killed at the World Trade Center, but he left a message of love before he died. Harry Waizer, terribly burned when the WTC elevator he was riding in erupted in flames. He managed to walk down nearly 80 floors, then beat the odds when doctors said he only had 50/50 chance to live. Michael Flocco, whose only son Matthew was killed at the Pentagon doing the duty he loved. Mike put muscle into his mornings, helping rebuild the Pentagon as part of Operation Phoenix. And deputy chief Richard Picciotto, the highest ranking New York firefighter to survive the collapse of the Twin Towers. Compelling stories of life, changing pain, American patriotism, and the enduring human spirit. With Dan Rather, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: We have heroes amongst us tonight. And Dan Rather is kind of like a co-host. We'll start with Dan. And he will have questions of our guests as well. As we approach 9/11, what goes through you?
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Many of the same emotions I felt at the time that we were going through 9/11 and those terrible days in its wake, it's a personal cauldron of sorrow, grief, rage, anger at the people who did it -- the situation. And then an absolute determination to remember and to look forward.
KING: And these feelings are "a coming back?"
RATHER: Anyway, caught away for about the middle of last week. I do want to emphasize at our CBS News coverage Wednesday, you know, what we want to do is be steady and even through the day. Whether we can do that or not, given the emotional undertow of the day, I'm not sure, but we start out with that as a goal.
KING: I'm going to run the little bios as we talk to each person, and then Dan will have questions, and we'll have questions.
Lorie, your husband Kenneth was killed. He was working for Cantor Fitzgerald, right?
LORIE VAN AUKEN, HUSBAND KENNETH KILLED AT WTC: That's right.
KING: And he's the one that left the -- how did that phone thing happen? VAN AUKEN: I was in the house at the time. I was exercising and I didn't hear the phone ringing. And he left a message. I wish I had gotten to the phone, but I didn't. And I probably just would have said, "Jump, just jump."
VAN AUKEN: Jump.
KING: You saved that message, right?
VAN AUKEN: Of course.
KING: I believe we have it. And we were going to play it later, but since we started off with it, let's see if we can hear it now. This is Kenneth at the World Trade Center, calling home into a message machine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH VAN AUKEN, VICTIM, WTC: I love you -- I'm in the World Trade Center, the building was hit by something...I -- I don't know if I'm going to get out, but I love you very much. I hope I'll see you later -- bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: When you heard that, you knew he was gone?
VAN AUKEN: I didn't. I didn't know. That's why I came here the day after I was looking for him still.
KING: The night you were on this show, you were looking for him?
VAN AUKEN: That was the 12th, yes.
VAN AUKEN: We knew he survived the impact. And we prayed that we'd have a better ending than we had.
KING: What happened to you, Harry?
HARRY WAIZER, SEVERELY BURNED IN WTC ATTACK: I was on my way to work. I worked at Cantor Fitzgerald as well. I was in the elevator. I don't know exactly what floor. Somewhere between the 78th and I imagine the point of impact for the airplane. And the elevator just suddenly rocked. There was an explosion. There was flame. I was trying to beat out the flame. The elevator was plummeting and then righted itself. And then a second fireball, the second one is one that hit me in the face, but the elevator did settle down at the 78th floor. The doors opened.
WAIZER: Doors opened. KING: Anyone on the elevator with you?
WAIZER: There was one other woman on the elevator.
KING: Was she burned, too?
WAIZER: She was burned. She walked down together with me. We both made it down to the lobby and out to the street. And I lost track of her. I don't know what happened to her.
KING: Was your face burning?
WAIZER: It wasn't burning. I got hit by a fireball that just -- if you can imagine a barbecue grill with too much gas, that just suddenly explodes, that's what I had. It just hit me in the face, then it was gone.
KING: How much surgery have you had?
WAIZER: I've had eight so far.
KING: Got any more?
WAIZER: I'll need a few more, yes.
KING: Yes? Are they going to make it better?
WAIZER: We hope.
KING: Yes? I mean, do they tell you they will?
WAIZER: It will -- yes, I mean, still have some pain. And you know, the hope is that the surgery improves it. You're never certain.
KING: Michael Flocco, what happened to your boy?
MICHAEL FLOCCO, SON KILLED AT PENTAGON, HELPED REBUILD: He was on his morning watch at the Pentagon, at Navy Command Center. He was a meteorologist technician. And him and Edward Earhart (ph) and Nancy McGowan (ph), who's the officer in charge, was staring at the TV monitor and watching the World Trade Towers burn. What they did, they kept an eye on all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all throughout the world, to direct ships which way to travel to avoid ice and storms. And they had a weather map, a wall of thunder with computers all -- weather maps all across the world. Well, that's what they were doing that morning.
But they saw the towers burn, so Lieutenant Nancy asked him to bring up New York because we're going to send some jet fighters up there, in case there was a further attack. And the moment they sat down at their desk is when the plane hit. And...
KING: How did you learn all this?
FLOCCO: We found that out by me going down there. All I was told was that he was killed instantly. And I just wanted to know the last seconds of his life.
KING: Do you wanted to go to where he died?
FLOCCO: I wanted to find out exactly what he did and what he was doing when the plane hit.
KING: By the way, Michael's story is going to be told in the September 2002 issue of "Reader's Digest." He helped rebuild the Pentagon. We're going to get to all these stories, as Dan and I question them. I'm just running through to start things.
And Richard Picciotto has been promoted a deputy chief. He was New York -- with the fire department as a battalion commander, 29 year veteran. And he wrote a book I happened to read. And it's one of the best books I've ever read. Forget the incident. "Last Man Down." What a book. "A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center."
You wrote that yourself, right? I mean, you...
RICHARD PICCIOTTO, AUTHOR, LAST MAN DOWN: I had -- I wrote it. I had a co-writer, Dan Paisner, who helped tidy up the ads and put a lot of the...
KING: Where were you that morning?
PICCIOTTO: I was in my firehouse originally. I saw the north tower being -- well, I saw right after north tower was hit. I was down there in 1993 for the World Trade Center bombing. And I wanted to get down there. I wanted to help. I called the dispatcher. I told him I wanted to get down there, because I knew the building. I was charge in the evacuation in '93. And they sent me down.
When I got there, the second plane had hit the second tower before I got there. And horrendous sight to see both towers in flames, a lot of smoke, people jumping.
KING: And you went into the building?
PICCIOTTO: I went into the north tower.
KING: And up, right?
PICCIOTTO: And up.
KING: How high up?
PICCIOTTO: I got up to the 35th floor of the north tower. I was actually on the 35th floor of the north tower when the south tower collapsed.
KING: Do you think twice about going in or not?
PICCIOTTO: No. No. Firemen, this is what we do. We go in to help people. We realized that it's a dangerous situation. Any fire you go into is a dangerous situation, but we go into help people. Those people need help, and we try to help them.
KING: I remember one of your descriptions of going into a room and people not moving. And you were wondering why they weren't moving. And they were not ambulatory, right? They couldn't walk?
PICCIOTTO: Right, right. On the way down, after we were leaving, after we were evacuated in the north tower, I was walking down. I was trying to be the last man down. And went into one room. Firemen directed me into one room on the 12th floor. And there were a bunch of people there. And I said, "Come on, we're going to leave." Two of the stairwells were blocked with debris. So there was only one stairwell that was still viable.
And I was trying to direct the people there. And at first I said, "Come on, follow us, let's go." And then, they weren't moving right away. And then they started getting up on walkers and wheelchairs. And I realize that's why they were stuck there. They were all disabled.
KING: And you helped to get them all down?
PICCIOTTO: Yeah, the fireman, we started -- they had a lot of help as first of all, civilians. So we got the civilians down first. And then we started...
KING: Carrying wheelchairs?
PICCIOTTO: Carrying wheelchairs and doing whatever we can to get the people out.
KING: We'll be back with our panel. Dan will be co-questioning as well. An extraordinary story, as approach 9/11. On 9/11, we're going to do a two hour special of LARRY KING LIVE. Among the guests will be Laura Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator Hillary Clinton, Governor George Pataki. We'll have musical selections by Celine Dion and Cher. Musical selection at the end of tonight's show by Natalie Cole.
Be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing that struck me, it looked like a ticker tape parade. It was filled with computer paper, and then debris -- I dropped the phone. And I just -- my arms dropped to my side. And I just heard everybody in the office saying, "Get out, get out."
And then it was -- when I was hitting down on 27th, just about 27, didn't hear an explosion. All of a sudden, the staircase moved and a crack in the wall appeared, maybe about six or eight inches. I kept on looking up the numbers coming down the stairwell, 15, 14, counting. And then I actually thought I can make it. But when I got out, it looked like I've never seen war up close, but today I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So just an unbelievable situation here.
RATHER: Well, Harold, if I may, take a deep breath. Take a series of deep breaths, and then let me ask you, have you seen any indication that would tend to confirm these reports, which have been growing in intensity, that a section of the World Trade Center has collapsed onto the street below. Do you see any confirmation of that in any direction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is true, Dan. That's why we were all running from. We heard the building coming down. And that's what we were running from, literally people ran out of their shoes, trying to get out of the way of this thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The latest official death toll is 2,819 at the World Trade Center, 343 New York firefighters, 60 were off-duty; 184 were killed at the Pentagon, including 125 on the ground at the Pentagon, plus the people on board flight 77.
Dan Rather also has a book collection out. He wrote the foreword. It's called "What We Saw." There you see its cover. The events of September 11, 2001 in words, pictures and video by CBS News, including some other contributors, right?
RATHER: That's correct.
KING: To the book as...
RATHER: Some of the best writers who wrote about that...
KING: Maureen Dowd (ph) is in that book, right?
RATHER: Maureen Dowd (ph) is in this book. Pete Hamill (ph) was in this book. Some of the best writers who wrote about today, we collected their pieces. And the book has a DVD with it. The only reason it's worth talking about, Larry, quite frankly, is that it's the kind of book that people who want to tell their children and grandchildren, you know, this is what we lived through. Don't ever forget it, and put this book on a shelf. And also, the DVD, which CBS News spent a lot of time putting together. For anybody who finds on Wednesdays just too much for me, then you know, you can look at it -- at your own personal time in your own way, whenever it suits you.
KING: And again, Richard's book, "Last Man Down." This is one of the great reads. You should be very proud of that book.
KING: Going to be a movie? That should be a movie.
PICCIOTTO: I haven't heard yet.
KING: All right, Dan, you want to follow?
RATHER: One question is when you were on the break, we saw the pictures of the day again. And perhaps I could start with you, Mr. Waizer. What is it you would like the rest of we Americans to do to mark this one year anniversary on Wednesday? And going forward, I mean, you lived it. You still live it with your pain. What is it you would have us do?
WAIZER: You know, I think it's important for all of us to reflect on the meaning of that day, and the lives that are lost. I don't think there's any one way that's appropriate to reflect. People have different ways. Go to your houses of worship, public meetings.
I think we have tendency here in this country to turn holidays into vacations. And I almost don't want this to be a formal holiday. I'm concerned that it become just one more Memorial Day. I'd like it to be a day of quiet contemplation.
RATHER: Ms. Auken, you and the girls, you must've talked about this?
VAN AUKEN: I think for me, what I would like to have happen now is I'd like to see an independent investigation into the events of September 11. There were a lot of agencies that failed on that day. And we are working very hard to try to get an investigation into that -- into the events of that day. I think that for me, my husband had to leave us. And he would've liked to make sure that the rest of us that remained were safe in this country. And I think that -- that's really the only way is to diagnose what went wrong, and then to go ahead and fix it.
RATHER: The investigation -- we're talking about the investigation -- would that include our intelligence agencies and how they respond and they didn't respond to the threat? Or is it confined to what happens in New York City?
VAN AUKEN: Well, they are already investigating intelligence failures. But from what we understand, they're not really investigating all of the other agencies -- INS, FAA, NORAD -- you know, and how those agencies did or didn't work together on September 11 that allowed these events to happen, because they're really should have been some safeguards and some overlap and some, you know, fail- safe measures that didn't work that day.
RATHER: Chief, how do you feel about this? You've said you worked the day that the World Trade Center was attacked in the early 1990s? Give us your perspective on her questions, and saying listen, there's so many questions we don't have answered, including why after that signal, 1993, why everybody wasn't standing at high alert?
VAN AUKEN: You can't stand at high alert forever. I believe, you know, that there should have been more intelligence. I think in this country, we tend to forgive and forget. I think we forgot 1993. We forgot some of the other attacks. We knew this group was out there. They were trying to get us. They swore to destroy this country. And they're still trying. There's people out there saying they're going to destroy this country, if given the capability.
We can never let them get that capability. And I firmly believe that we can never forget, and we really shouldn't forgive. I mean, I have forgive this in my soul. But if people are sorrowful for their actions, they're not sorrowful. And we can't forget. We will not forget.
RATHER: How about you? How would you like the country to respond on Wednesday in marking in this one anniversary? And what is it you would like the country to do now in memory of your son?
FLOCCO: I would like that people all across the country to show a little bit more appreciation toward the military. Because without them, most people would be camping in our backyards if there were biological warfare. The military took a real bad beating down at Pentagon that day. But what they did was they kept a, like a good friend of mine said, they kept a stiff upper left, and they didn't cry for mercy. They didn't want the people on the other side of the world to know that they took a hard hit.
But without the military, you and I are not going to be sitting here having this conversation. The military is the backbone of our country. And we have to support them. That's one of the reasons why I'm here. My son's watch had 51 naval personnel that morning. And only nine people walked out of there. So it was a -- the plane flew right across his desk and went right on through.
So those people died a tragic, tragic sudden, unexpected death. And my heart goes out to the military.
KING: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll pick up with Dan Rather and yours truly, Larry King, on this special. You're watching a live edition tonight. Normally it's LARRY KING WEEKEND on Sunday nights, taped shows. This is a live program. As part of our September 11 anniversary observance, we've asked families who lost relatives on that terrible day to share their memories. You'll be seeing the recollections on our show throughout the coming week.
William Burke (ph) was a New York firefighter who died on the job at the World Trade Center. His two brothers remember him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you saw somebody, a woman with -- struggling with packages, he would stop and turn around and go back to her, and help her with the packages, and help her to the door, and give her a smile.
He loved new friends. And he never abandoned old ones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he was my brother. He was like he was a good guy, but I didn't really realize until afterwards, just what a wonderful individual he really was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loved the duty. He loved the honor of the fire department, the sense of honor, and living up to that honor. He knew the south tower collapsed. So he could have got out. He said, "I have a job to do." And that's his last words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His only thoughts were laying down his life for others. And what better way to go than that, I guess. So...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOCCO: He was probably at his desk. And the plane came through the first floor, right through Naval Ops. And hopefully, he never knew what hit him. Flames and the heat were so intense, that it just melted some of the structure up above and caused the collapse right over in here. And fortunately, we got him back. We got a whole body back. I was able to hold, touch his hair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Mike Flocco, one of our guests, talking on the site of where his son was killed. That's from a video called "Inside the Pentagon." It's a special which will air on the National Geographic channel at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11.
Dan, you have...
RATHER: Larry, I was going to finish the roundtable questions. Let me ask you, did you have a discussion, a debate here at CNN? If so, did you take part in it how much, if any, to show the scenes of the buildings being hit? When we get into the school broadcast day on Wednesday?
KING: I didn't take part in the discussions. I know we're limiting it. There are very few showings of the buildings, very few. And that's what I was told. CBS, too?
RATHER: True. Restraint is going to be a byword of the day. We did give some consideration...
KING: You have to show it.
RATHER: Well, that...
KING: That's what happened, right?
RATHER: Andrew Heyward, who's the president of CBS News, and you know, made the final decisions, part of what they big bucks for when you're the president of CBS News. But there was considerable talk about restraint. But I think -- I know in the end it was editorially, you just can't go in saying well, we're not going to show not a single frame of it all day long. You could do that, but the decision CBS made had nothing to do with that. We showed some restraint there.
KING: Yes. I think that's the same here.
RATHER: But I'm not sure it's the right decision myself.
KING: You mean to show any of it?
RATHER: I just don't know. You know, I like to be decisive, but I'm torn a bit by it.
KING: Reportage, though, isn't it?
RATHER: What do you think? Are you offended by it?
VAN AUKEN: It's a heartbreaker every time I see it.
KING: This is where he died?
VAN AUKEN: Yes. I mean, I relive it, but I, you know, I guess I'm used to seeing it. And I just, you know, I expect to see it. So you know, I wouldn't want to see it over and over and over and over again, but I expect that I'll see it a couple of times at least.
KING: What do you think, chief?
WAIZER: Like said before, I don't want anyone to ever forget. And as terrible and as destructive as it was, that has to be shown occasionally, not constantly, but it has to be shown so people don't forget how...
KING: You want the Pentagon shown, Michael?
KING: You do want it shown?
FLOCCO: Oh, sure.
KING: So that we don't forget.
RATHER: How about you?
WAIZER: I agree with the chief. I want it shown, but not over shown.
KING: You know, the call then is how many times?
WAIZER: Yes. But in television, when we do, we tend to overdo. I'm hopeful that this will not be one of those times.
KING: Harry, I asked you during the break how much you're in. And you said you're in constant pain, so much so, that you don't even know you're in pain anymore?
WAIZER: Well, it's not so much so anymore. It started at a fairly high level. And it diminished over time. And at this point, it's leveled off. And it's part of my life. I take it for granted. I don't focus on a particular...
KING: Your hands are covered. Are they badly burned, both of them?
WAIZER: They were. The fingers, in particular, were burned down to the tendons. But I was very lucky. I -- they did not know if I would regain use of my hands. I did. And...
KING: Do you think it worked?
WAIZER: I'm not back yet, though.
KING: Is the company paying you?
WAIZER: Yes, they are.
KING: They are?
KING: Would you go back to work? Is that your goal to work?
WAIZER: That's my goal.
KING: Do people stare at you when they walk down the street?
WAIZER: Yes, I often wear a mask.
WAIZER: It's a clear acrylic mask. It covers my face. And it tries to reduce the scarring.
KING: You have psychological help?
WAIZER: I have. And I've had some...
KING: Are you angry?
WAIZER: I should be. And I don't know who to be angry with.
WAIZER: No. I mean, there's one man sitting in Afghanistan they say, perhaps Pakistan. I think he's a bit of a madman, the people who do what he tells them to do. You know, I think that the issues are so large that nothing's gained by being angry. We have to do something about this.
KING: You angry, Mike?
FLOCCO: More sad than angry. Sad.
KING: More sad than angry?
FLOCCO: I think the United States is carrying freedom of speech beyond the boundaries of decency. Maybe if we check ourselves out a little bit, and kind of tone back on our media, foul language...
KING: Hey, Dan...
FLOCCO: There's -- not you.
KING: Not Dan?
FLOCCO: Not Dan. But we have some people in the media that are making the other people in the other side of the world dislike us. Maybe we ought to check ourselves before we start pointing fingers the other way.
RATHER: If I may, I'm interested. I just noticed that you have a band over your left wrist.
RATHER: What does that say?
WAIZER: It's a band that was given to a friend of mine by a firefighter. It says "in memory of heroes who sacrificed so much 9/11/01." And then it says "FDNY, fire department, New York."
KING: You always wear that?
WAIZER: I only got it recently. And I think it's important.
KING: Lorie, before we ask you about your daughter, I'm going to break and then, Dan will have some more questions. Are you angry, Chief?
PICCIOTTO: I'm angry. I lost a lot of friends, a lot of co- workers. I'm angry. I'm sad too. I'd be angry if it happened again. I'd be really angry. I don't understand why it happened. I still don't understand...
KING: Do you relive the day a lot?
PICCIOTTO: I think we all do. I think, you know, people who were directly involved, you can't avoid it. And I'll probably relive it for every day of my life.
KING: How are your kids doing Lorie?
VAN AUKEN: You know...
KING: Your daughter was on. We're going to see a clip of it in a minute. She sang on this show.
VAN AUKEN: Yes.
KING: She wrote that song though?
VAN AUKEN: Yes. She wrote that song. I think we all relive that day and we all, you know, hope for a different ending when we wake up from the nightmare that did that day. This September 11, I'm hoping my husband would get it right and come home this time. My kids are coping as -- you know, as best as they can. My daughter is sad a lot of the time. And my son is sad. He gets angry.
KING: He gets angry?
VAN AUKEN: He gets angry.
KING: Rebellious a little?
VAN AUKEN: Well, he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his hair a little.
KING: Well, he's how old? Fifteen?
VAN AUKEN: Fifteen.
KING: And your daughter is how old?
VAN AUKEN: She's 13 now.
KING: All right, as we go to break, we're going to hear -- what's her name?
VAN AUKEN: Sara (ph).
KING: Sara (ph) appeared on this show when we did shows on this every day, following September 11. Sara (ph) appeared and here's a portion of the song she sang.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody go straight to the end. It's just about a 100 feet ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear out of here now! Go! We are evacuating this part of Manhattan. Get out of here now! Let's go, folks. Let's go. Let's go. Come on!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is a special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE and our panel includes Dan Rather, the anchor and managing editor of the "CBS EVENING NEWS," who's written the introduction to what we saw, "The Events of September 11, 2001 In Words, Pictures and Video."
Lorie Van Auken, her husband, Kenneth was killed at the World Trade Center working on the 102nd floor of the North Tower. He shares two children, Sara (ph) and Matthews.
Harry Waizer was severely burned in the 9/11 attack. He worked as a tax attorney for Cantor Fitzgerald. His wife is Karen. They have three children.
Michael Flocco, his and wife, Sheila, lost their 21-year-old son, Matthew, a Navy ether expert in a 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. He helped rebuild the Pentagon. The reconstruction was officially dubbed the Phoenix Project. His story will be in the September issue of the -- September 2002 issue, probably on the stands now, of "Reader's Digest." He paid his first visit to Ground Zero this weekend.
And Richard Picciotto is the deputy chief of the New York Fire Department. He was a battalion commander on 9/11, a 29-year veteran and the author of a brilliant book, "Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape From The World Trade Center" -- Dan.
RATHER: Chief, what about the radios? There have been so much talk. I'm not sure I understand myself. Better radios the New York City Fire Department had were available, right?
PICCIOTTO: Well, there were better radios out there. We had radios -- we had basically the same radios we had in 1993, for the first World Trade Center bombing and we had a lot of problems in '93. We have a lot of problems with any high-rise fire. We don't have a repeater system like the police department does.
RATHER: Why not?
PICCIOTTO: You're going to have to ask the people who do that. I don't know. There's a lot of different factors that come involved. Our radios, by necessity, can't be that strong or it will -- because there's a lot of fires going on in the city at one time. Most of the time, the police department has different -- they have more frequencies than we do.
RATHER: Excuse me, Chief, surely, in the 21st century, there are radios that exist that can get from a fire truck into base if a high- rise building -- even the highest rise building up to firemen in that building.
PICCIOTTO: Well, they should.
KING: And there were failures; is what you're saying?
RATHER: Well, massive failures.
PICCIOTTO: Well, without a doubt. We've been saying this. We've being saying it for years that we need better equipment. You know, it's one of the things that I brought out in the book that you know, we have to be properly trained, equipped and staffed and we weren't. There were failures with communications. The police department knew that the buildings were coming down. They saw the buildings shifting. They radioed that to the police officers in the building, but we didn't know it. We didn't hear it.
I've been to a lot of fires where I'll try to communicate with firemen in the building and I can't, but the policeman right next to us is communicating to the police officers in the building. They just have better radios and a better repeater system. RATHER: My question is, do you have the best radios now, today?
PICCIOTTO: They say they're testing new radios now. It's a fact that both the radios and a repeater system that strengthens the signal in buildings, especially high-rise buildings. The capabilities are there. They're developing them. Hopefully, they're going to integrate in the fire department. I want to see it and we've all been wanting to see it for...
RATHER: I hope you get them the day after tomorrow.
PICCIOTTO: I hope so.
KING: Michael, the Pentagon was kind of lucky in a sense, wasn't it?
KING: The side they hit wasn't that populated and it didn't make a direct, full -- like top of the Pentagon hit, right?
FLOCCO: Correct. Also, the other contributing factors -- fewer engines -- was the fact that it hit initially on the newly renovated section that had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wire inside of -- able to withstand more of an impact.
Plus, some of the columns and the windows had previously been reinforced for the first phase of the renovation. It was a five-phase renovation program. The first phase had just been completed only a week before. And where the plane hit was under restructured, reinforced part of it. So initially, it hit a very solid part and then, glanced off of that and went into the old section that had just been evacuated for phase two renovation. Had it hit anywhere else, it could have been catastrophic.
KING: What hospital treated you?
WAIZER: Initially, New York Presbyterian, the burn center, then Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. I was in New York for about two months, at Burke, for about three and intermittently, at the hospital for special surgery.
KING: Did you ever think you were going to die?
WAIZER: No, I was unconscious for most of the first several weeks. And by the time I regained consciousness, the real health crisis were over. And I was optimistic. I had my wife there encouraging me and she's a life force. She wasn't going to let me get discouraged.
KING: Lorie, have you received any remains?
VAN AUKEN: No, not a thing.
KING: Did you have a funeral?
VAN AUKEN: We had a memorial service on September 20 and we're waiting. We still could get something back. I don't know if we ever will.
KING: Was it tough to report that day, Dan? Was it tough to be a reporter?
RATHER: Sure, it was tough. You know, I say that in the context. It's so many people. It's so much suffering that day that, you know, to talk about what I felt, what we felt...
KING: Well, you had to tell the story.
RATHER: Of course, you had to go on and tell the story, but I -- you know, listen, television is -- to be on television is, you know -- I've described it before as -- most of the time it's like sniffing high grade NASA rocket fuel for the ego. But nothing connected with 9/11 has struck myself or anybody in journalism -- and I know in that way, it wasn't about us. It's still not about us. If you ask me when I started the program -- certainly, I had my own feelings and feeling this sense of rage and anger at the people who did this and the grief and all those things.
But well that day, we -- ours was a very small role to play, a very small contribution to make and we made it as best we can. But it's nothing to compare it to firefighters, policemen...
KING: Excuse me; Natalie Cole will be closing the program later. We'll be back with another segment of LARRY LIVE. And as we go to break, here's another memory of a relative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can see the towers from the town that I lived in. It's up on a hill in New Jersey. And we were in a store and the manager came running out and said, "The World Trade Center just collapsed." And I said, "You have to tell me what one because my brother's there." Tommy's babies were little teeny babies when he died. His daughter, Sara (ph), was a year-and-a-half old. And his daughter, Alison, was born on August 31. We were grateful that she was born early because Tommy had the chance to know her.
Sara (ph) looks like her mother and she's beautiful. And she has Tommy's funny personality. But Ali is her daddy. And I know that she and her mommy every night sit on the bed and they tell Daddy about their day and Sara (ph) blows kisses to heaven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing that stands out that's particularly hard is even to dig. After a while, you just find out you're so exhausted and then, you realize that you got to leave and that's hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because everybody wants to find a brother and no one wants to leave without them. So that's what we try to do. But at a certain point in time, you realize that you're useless. And that's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Michael, are you going to watch television Wednesday?
FLOCCO: No sir, I'll be at the Pentagon for the rededication. There'll be probably 10 to 15,000 people there. And we have a full plate back there. We're going to go to Constitution Hall for a concert and a gathering. And the whole day is going to be spent in memoration of the Pentagon.
WAIZER: I'm going to be with my family. And I say that I though it should be a day for remembrance, but it's been a year of remembrance for my wife and my children. And I thought it would be a good day to just spend together as a family.
KING: And not watch?
WAIZER: And not watch.
VAN AUKEN: I'll be with my family. I'll be with my children. My parents have flown in from Florida, some of my friends. I'll probably spend some of the day with some of the other widows who are -- actually have become part of my family now. Their children and some of the other widows, we spend a lot of time together and we sort of feel more normal with each other than with any one else.
PICCIOTTO: I'll be watching some of the TV. I'm sure I'll say a prayer and remember a lot of friends I lost, a lot of co-workers, reflect.
KING: You working all day, Dan?
RATHER: Yes, working all day and into the night.
KING: All programming, regular programming, all...
RATHER: That's right. We're -- a tone we hope we've set. We'll see whether we can maintain it through the day as remembrance, honor and moving forward.
KING: Are any of you in the mood -- we have just about exactly two minutes left -- to get even, Chief? PICCIOTTO: If we could isolate the people who did this, without a doubt. We have to eliminate them. And we can't stop as a country until we do.
KING: Lorie, you said no.
VAN AUKEN: I don't know that I could actually get even. I don't know exactly what we did to make these people so angry at us. I guess I'd like to know what that -- you know, what could have happened to have caused this. I can never bring my husband back and as a mother, I don't want to really go, you know, send other mother's sons into war. So I have a little bit of a -- you know, a little bit of a problem with all of that. And it's hard to make somebody else feel this loss.
KING: Interesting viewpoint. Do you want to avenge your son? Do you want to avenge son?
FLOCCO: I don't -- I don't think that will do any good. I think what we have to do is we have to try to find out why these people are doing this to us and change the way they think. That's going to take more than a couple of years.
KING: Are you surprised at these reactions?
RATHER: No, I'm not surprised. No, the reactions are very personal. Each has a personal reaction. And I was very struck when Harry said that his was a more spiritual reaction to this. But you know, on a personal level, for whatever -- and you may even recognize that I suspect very little. We didn't choose this war, but war has been visited on us. And we know this about wars -- once you're in it, you have to win it. And what wins wars is firepower, willpower, staying power and the question is whether we have the staying power.
KING: Thank you all very much. Dan Rather, Lorie Van Auken, Harry Waizer, Michael Flocco and Richard Picciotto. Tomorrow night, your old friend, Walter Cronkite, will be our special guest on LARRY KING LIVE. Natalie Cole will close out our proceedings following this. Don't go away.
KING: Natalie Cole will close proceedings for us tonight. And Natalie Cole has a new album. It's called "Ask A Woman Who Knows." It'll be out on the 17th, a couple of days away from now. Where were you on 9/11?
NATALIE COLE, SINGER: I was in Nashville. I was in Nashville with my husband. Yes, I had just dropped my stepson off at school and I came back in the house. And he said, "You're not going to believe this." And I looked at the TV and like so many people; I thought I was watching a movie. But when I saw the second plane hit the Trade Towers, I knew -- I just knew we were at war.
KING: And this song is special for it.
COLE: It's for the victims -- the families that are left behind.
KING: Ladies and gentlemen, Natalie Cole and "Angel on My Shoulder."
COLE (singing): I never thought I'd ever make it. I can't believe the hell I've been through. Couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't know what to do. I've been through the rain. I've been through the fire. There was something that I never knew. I had an angel on my shoulder with a plan for me divine. Must be an angel on my shoulder, who was right there all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Angel, must be an angel.
COLE (singing): This world can be so cold and so heartless. It's hard to find your way alone. I used to run so fast. No one could catch me. I couldn't find my way back home, but I've laughed. I've cried. I've won't look back, but my broken heart just never knew that I had an angel on my shoulder with a plan for me divine. Got to be an angel on my shoulder, who was right there, right there all the time.
Everybody needs someone to cling to with an unchanging love. I finally found a hand to hold onto, a shelter to run to. Now I see He's watching over me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Angel on my shoulder, angel.
COLE (singing): I've got an angel on my shoulder with a plane for me divine. Got to be an angel on my shoulder, who was right there, just right there, right there all the time. Got to be an angel, an angel, an angel, right there all the time.
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