Thursday, September 4, 2014

Atlas and the World's Weight

In the rapidly-escalating Hell that was the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a twenty-year-old man named Gregory Warnock who worked as a broker trainee on the 39th floor of the building came to the assistance of a member of the FDNY. 

Mr. Warnock and his co-workers were making their way out of the building - and had made it all the way down to the 18th floor landing in fact - when firefighters started moving past them heading up the stairs.  Mr. Warnock overheard one firefighter on the landing below him huffing and puffing and then punctuating the moment by making a self-deprecating joke about his age.  The firefighter gratefully accepted Mr. Warnock's offer of assistance in carrying gear up another twenty-five floors or so.  As the two men ascended the stairs, the firefighter jokingly asked Mr. Warnock if he, himself, was a firefighter.  When the younger man answered that he was a broker, the firefighter congratulated him, and told him to stick with it as the money was much better in Mr. Warnock's chosen profession than it was in his own.

At some point, after the pair had climbed twenty-five floors or so together, they encountered more and more people descending the stairs - who reported to the firefighter that people were trapped on the 72nd floor.  It was at that juncture that the firefighter thanked Mr. Warnock for his help one final time, commended him on the job he had done and directed him to get the hell out of there as quickly as he could.  Before leaving his new friend, Mr. Warnock asked him his name and recounted afterwards that when the firefighter formally introduced himself, he flexed.

Lt. Gregg Atlas of Ten House was forty-four years old at the time of his death on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Lt. Atlas was a twenty-year veteran of the FDNY and had been part of Ten House since earning the rank of Lieutenant in 1994.  When he was not risking his life to protect the people of New York City, he was kicking back on the farm in Howells, New York where he lived with his wife JoAnn and the couple's two children.  A farm on which he not only grew crops of all different types but where had at one time raised and kept a dozen or so cows. 

Lt. Atlas was one of four sons of Donald and Ruth Atlas and all four Atlas boys (Gregg and his three brothers Keith, Scott and Don) ended up becoming members of the FDNY.  Donald Atlas, Sr., the family patriarch died a little more than one month ago.  Mr. Atlas, eighty-two years old, outlived not only Gregg but his son, Keith, as well.


No comments: