9/11 docu-series shares first-hand accounts

By: Juan Calvillo

“9/11: One Day in America” is a striking and somber documentary series, with survivor interviews and footage from ground zero of the terrorist attack.

The events of Sept. 11 2001 can trigger harsh memories, so this documentary should be viewed with caution. 72 Films and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum produced the six-episode limited series that aired on National Geographic.

This documentary chronicles the hours before, during and after the terrorist attack in New York, from the various perspectives of those that were there.

Each episode is filled to the brim with the sounds, sights and thoughts of ordinary people and first responders who experienced a life changing event.

Each minute of footage is filled with life and death moments. People who didn’t experience this time in history first hand might think that the docu-series is fiction, but the frantic screams and rumbling destruction depicted will change their minds.

The sounds of firefighters and emergency workers trying to save people from what is happening is deafening. Watching a group of firefighters turn their heads as the roar of a jet engine blasts past them is heartbreaking, because the viewer knows that in the next moment these firefighters’ lives will change forever.

The most impactful parts of this docu-series are focused on the triumph and tragedy of the New York Fire Department.

While the film does justice to as many of the firefighters as possible, it does a fantastic job of telling the story of Battalion Chief of the First Battalion Joseph Pfeifer. His calm and soft voice does a chilling job of narrating the change from a normal day into hell on earth.

Pfeifer brings viewers along with him as he retells how his group of firefighters went into the lobby of the World Trade Center after the first plane hit. He describes the uncertainty, fear and courage the firefighters had, as the decision was made to go up the towers.

All the while, the docu-series tells the story from the perspective of office workers, food servers and average passer-by on the street. 

The series also covers the events at the Pentagon and how the efforts of passengers stopped United Flight 93 from causing any damage in Washington DC.

The show uses first responders, media covering the event and individuals who worked at the towers to tell the sequence of events of Sept 11. “9/11: One Day in America” is both a saddening and inspiring series.

It shows the United States of America on a day that slowly devolved into a hellscape. The series also shows the strength of the human spirit and the love people have for their fellow person.

Despite all the trauma a docu-series like this might drum up, there is a sense of community that is a part of it as well.

A community feeling of hope for the next steps this country will take and the good coming from the journey. “9/11: One Day in America” is six episodes, now available to stream on Hulu and is rated TV-MA.

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