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Waiting to Hear About Family and Friends - 2001-09-14

New York City is gripped by grief and woe, as rescue workers continue to search debris for the thousands who were killed or wounded by the terrorist strikes Tuesday that leveled the World Trade Center. So far, very few of victims have been discovered and identified.

An armory building covering an entire square block of Manhattan was converted into a makeshift center for those wishing to see if the names of their loved ones had made it onto the official lists of the dead, the wounded or the saved.

Ghopal Lachhman was one of thousands who stood on the sunlit sidewalks outside holding photographs and descriptions of friends and relatives, hoping for news. "I am looking for my brother, Arnold Lachhman," Mr. Lachhman says. "He worked for P.M. Contracting and I have not heard from him since Tuesday. He is a good guy. He is six-two (about two meters tall), 222 pounds (about 90 kilos), a married man with two kids." A reporter asks, "what are you feeling at the moment?" Mr. Lachhman responds, "emotions are running very high. The agony of waiting, the expectations. "We just came out from the armory over there. We checked some names on the list and there is nothing there. They are saying if anything comes up, they will give us a call." He's asked one final question, "Is there a message you would like to give your brother perhaps?" "That we love you and we hope we get you home soon," Mr. Lachhman says.

Salman Khan's brother Tymore was on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center when it was rammed by one of the hijacked planes. He was one of 85 employees who are known to have been on the floor at that time. "Not one person has been heard from from the entire floor," Mr. Khan said. "He is 29-years-old. He is the nicest guy in the world. He likes working. He loves to go out with friends. He is the best big brother. He is just the sweetest guy on the planet. This is not fair."

Caroline Stobb, who came here with her mother, hopes that her brother Craig may still be alive. The young father-to-be was working near the top of Tower Two when it collapsed in a filthy pile of ash and steel.

Ms. Stobb tells us about her brother, "Craig is recently married. He is expecting his first child any day now. His wife is home pregnant going into contractions. They have had to take her to the hospital a couple of times already."

His mother is asked if she would like to share something about Craig. "He is a great great kid," she says. "He is very entertaining. Very nice [and] very polite, and very smart. He is everything you would want in a son." The reporter says, "you are using is, not was. You have still got some hope?" His mother reponds, "oh yeah. I want to go down there and lift the rocks myself."

Craig's sister offers this final thought, "I just want to go down there with a bullhorn and just scream out his name in case he is under the rubble," Ms. Stobb says." Maybe he can hear us, to know that he is not alone. That we are here and that are praying for him and that we are fighting for him."

It is easy to see the family resemblance between Lisa Perlman and her brother Richard Allen Perlman who smiles broadly in the black and white photograph she is clutching. Ms. Perlman is afraid he may have entered the flaming building to offer first aid. "He was very giving. All he ever wanted to do was to help people," she says. "[In] any situation, he was the first one there to help people. He was volunteering with the Red Cross, [and] he was volunteering with the Forest Hills Ambulance Corps. He was a Boy Scout troop leader. He was 18 years old. I just need to find him. If he is not alive, I just want his body. I need to find him."

Adrian Kromouski came here today to find word of her friends Christopher and Scott on behalf of their families. "We love you both very much. We miss you very much. And we just hope that they find you soon," Ms. Kromouski says. A reporter says, "You are hurting a lot." She answers, "I am. And it hurts me even more because I see everyone here in pain. And I know that everyone at home is in pain. And we are all in this together."

That is a burden and a privilege all Americans are destined to share, perhaps for years to come.