New York picks up the pieces

PART 4 OF A 4-PART SERIES -- THURSDAY -- DAY 3 [Sept. 13] (continued)

Barbara [Vic's wife] works at Baruch College -- a not quite completed $320 million complex right across from the 69th. They forgot to install a flagpole so I go over and to get American Flags -- to hang in the windows of her office and one for the 2nd Floor of the 69th -- for all to see as they climb up to the second floor.

Photo by Gerry Regan
Sidewalk vendors and immigrant-owned storefronts do a brisk business feeding New Yorkers' yearning to standby the flag.

As I walk up 26th Street to a flag distributor I see nothing but Old Glory on cars, buildings and businesses. Most of the people in this area are Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Indian, Middle Eastern -- all the "gift store" junk and I see that they are afraid. This is "knock-off city," where you buy the $5 Rolex and the 40 cents "gold" chain. The Flag business I go to is legit -- been there forever -- and I buy his last 2 US Flags and a dozen smaller ones. I bring them to Barbara, who along with her coworkers tells the Department Chairman to get out the check book -- he agrees (really has no choice with all these PO'd women). The flags now hang on 2 windows over the atrium of Baruch College for all to see -- it is against the rules to hang anything, but I pity the poor functionary or politico who says take it down! (I remember the old Barbara Fritchie poem from grade school).

I go back pass the Armory and see Ali, Zuckerman, Soto and others of the 88th [Brigade, New York State Guard] on traffic and security duty. I go into the Armory and report in to Command Sergeant Major Mike Cruzado of the 69th -- his office has been commandeered, and he has a little room with a phone and a computer. He says the Battalion is beat up but the guys are really putting out and he does not need anything from me, Bob Davis or any of the Vets (who are calling in from the suburbs looking to help). We have sort of a one way conversation and I think he will close his eyes on my next word. I tell him I will be gone until Monday and he asks if I can be reached if they need me -- the answer of course is yes.

... the headline in bold letters 'BASTARDS'

I walk out the entrance and it is like swimming against the tide -- I am leaving, and streams of volunteers and family members flood in. Our son-in-law Greg, from Boston, calls and says one of the women he worked with in Boston and left to start her own Company was on one of the planes that hit the WTC.

The headline in the ultra-liberal Village Voice has a picture of the second plane as it hits and has the headline in bold letters "BASTARDS."

We have not been down to our place of business at Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore in 6 weeks with all our Irish Festivals and will go there early and hopefully get a little R & R. There is nothing else we can do here to assist and the "system" is in full gear and old timers like us will only be in the way.

On Tuesday evening I will be at the O[fficers] Club and hope by that time the 69th is released from duty or at least in a stand down so I can at least pop a beer with those heroes of 2001.

We have received about 300 e-mails -- some a few words -- some many paragraphs. The support from around the planet is 100%, and somehow when this is over all the men of the 69th will get copies of your prayers, praise, support and compliments. It has taken many, many hours to put them all together and I regret that we could not respond to each individual one -- although they really deserved such a response from us individually.

I trust you will all accept a general and universal "Garryowen" from me on behalf of the Fighting 69th and their comrades including the 105th Infantry, the 258th, the 88th Brigade of the NY Guard and the 69th Veteran Corps.

Next week I hope to be able to talk to the soldiers who were there and to give you a report of their activities.

Photo by Gerry Regan
On Day 4, Friday, Sept. 14, millions of Americans in thousands of small towns and large cites gathered in candlelight vigils like this one in Manhattan's Union Square.

Eventually, I will send you all a copy of the e-mails received. I have changed the names to initials and have avoided identification except for the military ones received. Right now, even abridged and condensed it is 14 pages.

I can only hope that by the time we awake on Monday morning, we will know of ONE person who was rescued alive -- it will mean so much to all our brave search and rescue teams who have given their all.

Fly your Colors at half mast and light a candle at 7 PM Friday in honor of our dead.

God Bless America!

Let this message be understood by every person on earth from here on -- DON'T MESS WITH THE U.S.!

Vic and Barbara Olney 

Part 1: Just 'Doing Their Job'

Part 2: Looking for Miracles -- Wednesday Night, Sept. 12

Part 3: The Forlorn Hope -- Thursday, Sept. 13

Part 4: Nothing But Old Glory -- Thursday, Sept. 13 Continued

 

The late Vic Olney, the proprietor of Tara Hall was a veteran of the 69th New York, and the volunteer manager of the armory's Officers Club. Vic graciously allowed WGT to reproduce these dispatches in 2001, which he previously sent to all on Tara Hall's e-mail update list. 

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