Remembering 9/11 with a First Responder

This firefighter's life changed forever when he arrived at Ground Zero just after the South Tower collapsed. Here, Richard Alles discusses what he saw on 9/11.

Beacon to the 9/11 community

On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Firefighter Richard Alles had just finished a 24-hour shift as chief of the FDNY's Battalion 58 before the first plane hit the North Tower. Thousands of emergency responders rushed to Ground Zero and dug through rubble and debris searching for survivors. This went on from the day of the attack until May 2002. Years later, it was confirmed that the fumes responders inhaled were carcinogenic — and in many cases, lethal. 99% of exposed firefighters reported at least 1 new respiratory problem after working at Ground Zero according to

“The TV was on the news and the events of the day were unfolding. Initially it sounded like it was a commuter plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. While we were on the way over there, a second plane had hit and it took us awhile to muster, a good couple of hours of getting manpower, to get equipment, to be able to operate there. So, by the time we left, I already knew that both towers had collapsed. I arrived on the scene on September 11th about 20 minutes after the second collapse. So mentally I was prepared for the magnitude of the devastation. But it's one thing to have information and another thing to visually see it and try to process it. And it's very difficult. It's almost it's surreal,” recalls the fireman.

After retiring, Alles lobbied for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides benefits and economic support to 9/11 survivors and their families. It received national attention after comedian Jon Stewart’s testimony before Congress, urging them to extend funding. In July 2019, Congress passed a bill that extends funding through 2090, which President Trump signed into law. After years of debate, construction on the 9/11 memorial began in 2006, and finally opened in 2011. Alles says he wants the stories of 9/11 survivors to be remembered because for many, the emotional and physical burdens are lifelong.


09/11/2019 4:12 PM
  • 64.2k
  • 25


  • Abhinaba S.
    09/11/2019 16:28

    No need to cry and sensationalize it so much America. Just remember how many people you killed when you bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When you killed people in Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on. You spent so much of money on weapon development and at the end you got bombed by your own aeroplanes. It's your karma

  • Sami U.
    09/11/2019 16:30

    Waleed Shehzad

  • Brut
    09/11/2019 16:49

    "We can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country — but we can stop penalizing them and today is that day." This was Jon Stewart's heartfelt speech after the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund bill passed — extending funding for more than 70 years.

  • Taimoor K.
    09/11/2019 16:54

    9/11 = Phulwama. Self sponsored Dramas to kill Muslims.

  • Taimoor K.
    09/11/2019 17:00

    According to you, 3000 people died in 9/11, after that the United States killed 300,000 Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Sell ​​your weapons to grab oil. The biggest deception of this century is 9/11

  • Abdoulaye T.
    09/11/2019 17:52

    Triste images. Que. Je. Regrette.

  • Maria M.
    09/11/2019 19:08

    Everybody knows it was an inside job.

  • Santos G.
    09/11/2019 19:57

    You need not to be fearful about outside forces just be careful with your own government aye. 🙏

  • Elerre G.
    09/11/2019 20:34

    Where’s Bush right now?

  • Julio G.
    09/11/2019 20:56

    In spite of all a human respect for him.didnt ask for any recognicement

  • Sofyan R.
    09/11/2019 20:59

    Zionist industry par excellence.

  • Nazir N.
    09/11/2019 21:37

    look at how those buildings came down...although hit from the top.

  • Kendall H.
    09/11/2019 22:17

    How did they fall vertically thou

  • Mamita C.
    09/11/2019 23:44


  • Richard J.
    09/12/2019 18:55

    I can Never forget This Televised Sight !

  • Miguel R.
    09/12/2019 22:18

    Ustedes los gringos con nada selebran recuerdan y acen drama pero lla s olvidaron q los árabes nunca bienen a estados unidos a inbadir son ustedes los q invaden alos paices árabes entonces xq lloran como maricones X un acto q ustedes mismos provocaron

  • Gilbert R.
    09/13/2019 15:45

    Inside job..deep dark american state..of corporate's..bankers..military industrials

  • Renfebron R.
    09/13/2019 20:09

    Under Republican administration this unforgettable scenario happened where weapons deal is also profitable in the middleeast

  • Dan H.
    09/15/2019 11:54

    And to think his, our own government took part in this evil destruction of humanity. 911 was an inside job.

  • Zach H.
    09/16/2019 14:18

    I wonder about the guys from that documentary from those French brothers. Station 49 I think? I don't remember but they were the very first down there, and they all survive too.