Cleaning Up Sept. 11 Ashes Was 'Like A Communion' Jack Murray watched the Sept. 11 attacks unfold from the roof of his Manhattan apartment building. For two weeks, he cut steel beams for the search and rescue efforts at ground zero. John Romanowich worked for the city agency in charge of the cleanup and spent four months helping at the site.
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Cleaning Up Sept. 11 Ashes Was 'Like A Communion'

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Cleaning Up Sept. 11 Ashes Was 'Like A Communion'

Cleaning Up Sept. 11 Ashes Was 'Like A Communion'

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Jack Murray watched this disaster unfold from the roof of his apartment building. He's a welder by trade, and Murray made his way to Ground Zero, volunteering to cut steel.

JACK MURRAY: Later on in that first night, I had this thought that I was standing on this gigantic funeral pyre going into the earth, and that with all the heat that kept coming out from underneath the debris and the fires that would come up, I realized I was probably breathing in the ash and remains of some of the people. It was kind of like a communion for me.

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INSKEEP: That's Jack Murray remembering September 11, 2001. John Romanowich spent four months at Ground Zero, working for the Department of Design and Construction, the city agency in charge of cleaning up. He first arrived at the site just days after the attack.

JOHN ROMANOWICH: Going back to a regular, normal job, a regular, normal existence; that was a real adjustment, because we all eventually got to where that was where we felt normal. And we didn't ever feel right when we had to leave, when we had to go home. So, that was like you were getting cut from the team.

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INSKEEP: These interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress and at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.

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INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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