9/11 Friends

  • Sept. 11, 2017
  • #9226

Trapped on the 27th floor, a courageous man refused to leave his quadriplegic friend behind in order to save himself.

New York

New Mobility  

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a story about 9/11 that’s not often told.

It’s a story of courage and friendship. And the reason it touches me so deeply, it's because it’s about a fellow quadriplegic, Ed, and his friend, Abe. The two of them were on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center that day. When Ed heard a tremendous boom above him and he felt the building shake, when he saw debris falling from the ceiling, he knew something awful had happened. It was around lunchtime and most of his co-workers had just left their lunches and raced for the stairs. Two men immediately came to help Ed in his power wheelchair. Both of them looked at the chair—this wasn’t going to be easy, trying to carry this guy, this quadriplegic, down the narrow stairs. He weighed nearly 300 pounds. Recognizing the risk of broken bones if he wasn’t carried correctly, Ed decided to wait for the fire fighters. As the building rattled and shook more, one of the men left. But the other, Ed’s good friend Abe, he said he would stay until the firemen came and could properly carry his friend with the right equipment. Did Ed insist that his good buddy leave and follow the others? We don’t know. But even if Ed had, Abe would have stayed. Their friendship was that deep, and he would not think of leaving the side of his helpless friend.

Ed and Abe waited and waited, not realizing that the firemen were having to fight through stairwells that were clogged with debris, not to mention panicky people trying to rush to safety. While they waited, Abe called his family and explained that he was staying by the side of his quadriplegic friend until help arrived. Abe’s mother begged him to evacuate, but he was determined to stay and help Ed. That’s the last contact anyone had with these two guys—they were the only ones remaining on the 27thfloor. Sadly, in a short time, the World Trade Center collapsed. The 27th floor disappeared in the roar and the rumble. Neither Ed nor Abe made it out of the building.

I think you can see why this story touches me so because I'm a quadriplegic like Ed. And I know I have friends who are like Abe. I know these precious friends would take any risk, make any sacrifice to help me, even if I were in terrible danger. These friends are true helpers of the helpless, and Jesus spoke about them in John Chapter 15, verse 13, where it says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” It’s why today on 9/11 when we remember the heroes, the true patriots of that terrible day, I am remembering a man named Abe who could have saved himself, but he did not. Because of love, he courageously chose to stay by the side of his quadriplegic buddy until the very end.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that, “For a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances [in friendship]. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends, ‘Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.’ The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of the other.” Proof of this is in the remarkable 9/11 story of Ed the quadriplegic and Abe, his friend. By the way, if you would like to read more about this incredible story, visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org where we have a link to New Mobility magazine where the full account is shared. When you have a chance today, drop by joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends



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