5. A gathering storm

Before it came to be known as ground zero, before it stood for a time and a place that made the world look on New York with a mixture of sympathy and admiration, before it symbolized the most vicious attack on American soil in U.S. history, the 16 acres where the World Trade Center stood—and fell—on September 11 was a working fire, and thus was under the command of the Fire Department of the City of New York. That clear, crisp late summer morning, after the first jetliner smashed into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m., a third alarm went out and firefighters from all over the city were mustered to Lower Manhattan. They continued to treat the unfolding disaster as a fire and rescue even after the second jet struck its target ...

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