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Robert Jay Lifton

Robert Jay Lifton is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Graduate School University Center and director of The Center on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York. He's written books on many topics, including the Japanese cult which released poison gas in the Tokyo subways, Nazi doctors, Hiroshima survivors and Vietnam vets.

06:24

Other segments from the episode on September 11, 2002

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, September 11, 2002: Interview with Robert Jay Lifton; Interview with Sekou Sundiata; Interview with Richard Thompson; Interview with Greg and Lauren Manning; Interview…

Transcript

DATE September 11, 2002 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Robert Jay Lifton discusses how people deal with national
tragedies
TERRY GROSS, host:

I'm Terry Gross, and this is a special edition of FRESH AIR, commemorating
September 11th with words and music.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson and jazz guitarist and
singer John Pizzarelli will perform songs that have been going through their
minds since the attacks.

Poet and New Yorker Sekou Sundiata says he always felt like the un-American
American, writing from the outside and looking inside. He'll read a piece
about how the attacks gave him a new understanding of what it means to be an
American.

And as we remember the thousands who died, we talk with Greg and Lauren
Manning. Lauren barely survived and is still trying to repair her body and
her life.

To be honest, this has been a difficult show to put together. Difficult to
figure out what we could do that might help bring meaning or comfort on this
occasion. But there's something else. After doing our best to go on with
daily life after the 11th, the anniversary is calling us back to the horror,
fear and loss of that day. I was talking about all this recently with Dr.
Robert Jay Lifton. He's a psychiatrist who's written about the aftermath of
Hiroshima, the chemical attack on the Japanese subway and the fear of nuclear
apocalypse. Dr. Lifton said some things that helped me understand what I was
experiencing. So I called him back and asked him to expand on what he told
me.

Dr. Lifton, I guess I'm hardly the only person who has confused feelings about
this September 11th and how to commemorate the day. What kind of calls have
you been getting?

Dr. ROBERT JAY LIFTON (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City
University of New York): I've been getting a number of calls asking about
what the commemoration is all about. And my sense is that the reporters
calling me are themselves confused. They don't know quite how to commemorate
this event because it's very hard to commemorate an event that we're still in
the middle of. Because a commemoration is usually a way of looking back on an
event in order to move forward and beyond it. But it's hard to move beyond
this event because we're still caught in it and we're still fearful about the
various ramifications of it.

GROSS: You know, some people are observing September 11th in a private way.
Other people are observing it in a more public way, you know, in ceremonies
and public commemorations. What do you think are some of the differences
between the public and the private expressions?

Dr. LIFTON: There's an enormous difference between private mourning, which is
the deep need of people most involved in the September 11th disaster, and
public ritual around an event. And the difference has to be on the one hand
the private mourning being an expression of experiences of loss and pain,
whereas the public ceremony has to do with a general meaning that some leader
is attributing to the event on behalf of his or her project. That's very
different. And survivors become very sensitive to the utilization of their
experience for other purposes, and they become suspicious of what I call the
counterfeit. And they're likely to see some of this as counterfeit.

GROSS: You've written a lot about Hiroshima and Hiroshima survivors, looking
at the commemorations that have gone on in Japan.

Dr. LIFTON: Well...

GROSS: Go ahead.

Dr. LIFTON: Well, you know, Hiroshima's different from September 11th in
that it involved the destruction of a whole city, and it was a much, much
larger disaster. But there are certain parallels, especially in relation to
commemoration. And the--Hiroshima, people had very great difficulty in how to
commemorate the event. They have an August 6th public ceremony every year,
and some survivors think that's exactly the thing to do, and others are
horrified by it, because they think it inauthentic. And they also had
struggles with memorialization--what kind of memorials to build and whether to
allow the so-called A-bomb Dome which was one of the stronger buildings which
was partially standing after the bomb--whether to allow that to stand or to
fall. So that really one has to say there is no adequate way to commemorate
or memorialize a disaster of this dimension.

GROSS: Dr. Lifton, I'll confess that on the one hand I feel a real
responsibility that we at FRESH AIR put on our best effort to commemorate
September 11th with a special program. I mean, it feels like it's something
that we feel we must do. On the other hand, I have this fear that we're just
adding to this media excess in the wake of September 11th. And I'm just
wondering about your thoughts about, you know, the media landscape for
September 11th.

Dr. LIFTON: Well, that kind of ambivalence that you express seems to me very
appropriate because on the one hand, one can't ignore it. If one is trying to
carry through a function of recording what's happening in a society, one has to
say something about it. On the other hand, the media onslaught really covers
over human feelings and may interfere with private mourning.

GROSS: You have a lot of experience with commemorations of disaster and
catastrophe. What--this sounds like a stupid question, but what's the point
of the commemoration? What emotionally or historically do we want to get out
of it?

Dr. LIFTON: Well, the point of the commemoration at an individual
psychological level is to allow us to experience our pain and loss, and to
undergo emotions and expressions that we really require. It's part of a
mourning process. At the same time, like any mourning process, it has the
purpose of freeing us from those very dead that we seek to remember,
separating ourselves from them and freeing ourselves from the disaster. It's
very difficult to do in a large-scale disaster like this, which becomes
inundated by media needs and by those who take control of it in terms of
public ceremonies. But I need--I think we need to keep in mind what any
commemoration does.

GROSS: Dr. Robert Jay Lifton is currently a visiting professor of psychiatry
at Harvard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Sekou Sundiata reads from his work and discusses his
poetry and response to September 11
TERRY GROSS, host:

When we decided to commemorate September 11th with music and readings, we
called Sekou Sundiata, a poet who grew up in New York and still lives there.
The Village Voice once said `He is to contemporary African-American poetry
what Marvin Gaye was to modern soul.' We found out he'd been in the hospital
on September 11th. He'd been through a long period of bad health, starting
with kidney failure and a kidney transplant. After getting back on his feet,
he was on his way to his comeback performance when he crashed his car in a
snowstorm and broke his neck, requiring another year of recovery. Luckily he
had no paralysis. It was the side effect of his kidney surgery that had him
back in the hospital on the 11th. A few days later, he was well enough to
speak at a 9/11 teach-in. On his way, he stopped at ground zero. That visit
led to this reflection in an essay that we asked him to read.

Mr. SEKOU SUNDIATA (Poet): (Reading) `Here's how the story of my visit to
ground zero ends. I went to the subway station to catch an uptown train to
the teach-in. The station was in a remote location and seemed to be empty as
I started down the stairs. I could hear footsteps coming up the stairs and
towards me. When I turned to go down the second set of steps, I saw an Arab
man coming. He passed without looking at me and didn't say a word. All you
could hear was our footsteps.

`The faces of the al-Qaeda suspects who hijacked the airplanes and carried out
the suicide missions came into my mind in the fashion of a police photo book.
Something told me that this guy just planted a bomb in the subway and that it
was going to go off as soon as I got down the steps. The odor of melted
steel, concrete, dust and week-old underground fires were heavy in my
nostrils. I stopped and told myself, "I would be a fool to walk any
further."

`I turned to see the man standing street level at the top of the stairs. He
was looking around to one side and then the next. I started to walk back up
the stairs, when I got a good look at his face. Suddenly, he became a Puerto
Rican. I laughed that funny but it ain't funny laugh at myself, went
downstairs and caught the train.

`I'm a lifelong New Yorker. I grew up with close ties to my family roots in
the South, but I am a New Yorker, which is a very involved and contentious
identity. I am bound to the land, to the city, to the streets, the cityscape,
the neighborhoods, the people, the languages, the waterways, the open spaces,
the corruptions, the driving habits, the impatience, the suddenly flashes of
brutality and unexpected flowerings of kindness, the racism and poverty--all
of it. As a kid, I used to play at the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York
Giants. And I could see Yankee Stadium from my living room window. I've been
eating Puerto Rican and Cuban food, Italian and Indian food, Japanese and
Chinese food ever since I was a teen-ager. I used drugs and sold drugs on
those streets. I went to jail on Rikers Island. I joined the revolution on
the campus of City College.

`I always understood that these things and more made me a New Yorker. I
didn't understand until the aftermath that they also made me an American. I
didn't understand until I saw the flames from the burning towers and smelled
the smoke from the crater that you could still see from miles away. I've been
trying to get at this American feeling that surfaced in me. My writing life
began from the outside looking in. I wrote as the un-American American.
That's how I think and feel to this day. But that feeling is complicated by
the aftermath, and it will have implications for aesthetic choices I will
make.

`It seems that I'm being forced to confront, to imagine, to invent what it
means to be an American again. Forced to think about what it is that makes us
diverse, but also what it is that makes us one. And what do I mean by "makes
us one" anyway? I began answering that question by noticing the number of
transactions that took place in a short period of time on those subway stairs.
The most important to me was how willing I was to flip the script. How the
profile became the profiler. How the victim began the victimizer. What if he
was Puerto Rican, but he greeted me with "(Arabic spoken), Poppy." Now that
I'm feeling all American, what kind of American was I going to be? What's
that song from back in the day? "Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it
will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. Step out of line, the man
comes and takes you away. Stop, yeah, what's that sound? Everybody look
what's going down." What kind of intersection was that?

`Earth, water, fire, air--what I call the essential energies--have been on my
mind for a few years. I'm on the upside of a prolonged personal battle with
illness, disease and injury. And for several months, I've been working on a
one-man performance piece based on that experience. So much of what went on
during this period came down to essential energies: blood, minerals,
chemistry, respiration, metabolism and so forth. The rest of the world fades
into the background as these things come up front. They take center stage
with an undeniable force and presence. Not just for me, but for all the
patients I met. Whatever titles we wore, whatever categories we attended to
or praised or qualified by our hospital gowns and our IV poles in absurd and
poetic unity of possibility.

`I guess that I felt there was this same kind of unity in the experience of
the attacks and the aftermath. It is a kind of awareness that war sharpens
and heightens in ways that peace has not, yet. Or put another way, we don't
know what peace can do.'

GROSS: Sekou Sundiata, thank you for reading that. You know, you've written
that as soon as the attacks were reported on September 11th, your phone began
to ring and the lost army of protest was calling you to read poetry at rallies
and calling on you to denounce US foreign policies. And I get the feeling
that you thought they expected you to say the predictable things, but you
wanted to wait and figure out what you were really thinking and feeling. And
I'm wondering what are some of the things that have surprised you most about
what you were thinking and feeling, and what you've continued to think and
feel.

Mr. SUNDIATA: Well, I guess the main thing here for me is, you know, taking
off on something I just read, and it also appears in the poem, is that, you
know, I've had this strange hyphenated relationship to America. You know,
African-hyphen-American. And that really--once I became conscious of it, I
realized that that feeling had been there almost all of my conscious life.
And by the time I reached young adulthood, you know, I was politicized and
radicalized by the movement of the times. So I was very involved and spent a
great deal of time in the movement--organizing, protesting, etc.

And I realized that in that process--in that process of being oppositional to
many of things that were going on, that somehow or another I lost this sense
of what it meant for me to be an American in some fundamental way. And I
think that's the case not only for me, but also for many people of my
generation who came up during that time and who were also active in the
anti-war movement, or, you know, the women's movement or black liberation
movement, that we got so caught up in being oppositional and fighting against
that we really never took the time to lay out what it is that we're for. So
for me, when the attacks happened and I went to ground zero, I felt like an
American. You know, this overwhelming sense of some kind of unity or some
kind of feeling for America came up in me.

And it had nothing to do with the flag. It had nothing to do with calling
everybody heroes. It had nothing to do with the knighting of Rudolph Giuliani
as Sir Rudy. It didn't have anything to do with that. But I was not clear
about what it did have to do--you know, what it was connected to. What it was
about. And I...

GROSS: Do you have a sense of that now?

Mr. SUNDIATA: Oh, I tried to get at it even then, you know. And part of it
had to do with my--it does have a lot to do with the land, you know, and the
history of the land and what I call the ghosts, you know. The land in general
of, you know, the United States of America, but also with New York in
particular. You know, my life is unexplainable without the streets of New
York City, without the history of the streets of New York City, these
neighborhoods, and, you know, my first this happened here, my first that
happened there. You know, it's all part of my personal mythology and who I
am.

Other aspects of it I think I'm still grappling for, you know, still trying to
come to terms with. And I feel lonely in that. You know, I mean, I talk to
other people--I have other friends, other writers and artists who, you know,
also think along these lines, but I realized I could not rely on what we would
in the days gone by call the left, you know, that I could not--that somehow I
felt the left was stuck in some Cold War rhetoric and perspective that really
couldn't address this.

GROSS: This is a special edition of FRESH AIR commemorating September 11th.
Let's get back to our interview with poet Sekou Sundiata.

Now you were in the hospital on September 11th, and you were in a very
compromised and vulnerable physical condition. And you had been physically
broken for a couple of years before that?

Mr. SUNDIATA: Right.

GROSS: And I'm wondering if you think it affected your response to seeing
your city broken at the same time you were feeling broken yourself?

Mr. SUNDIATA: Yeah. Absolutely, and, I think, in a number of ways. One is
that, you know, going through the illness and all that surgery made me think
about surfaces and things below the surface, you know...

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. SUNDIATA: ...having been under anesthesia so much during that period of
time, you know. And, you know, this whole life of the body and what's going
on, you know, as we sleep, so to speak, you know, all of these chemical--how
much we're dependent on these chemical reactions and these delicate balances
of minerals, you know, all of these things, you know. So I think I've become
much more aware of that. And thinking about the attack on the towers and
thinking about that crater I really did think about how much the underlife of
the city, you know, all of the history that exists below the surface, below
the ground that's now exposed in that crater, how much that underlife really
animates the city day to day, from neighborhood to neighborhood. You know,
whether it's the African burial grounds or the old Native American horse
trails, or, you know, neighborhoods where gangs--you know, street gangs--all
that folklore and mythology is there and it's out of view. But, you know, I
believe that it really animates things from day to day.

GROSS: You've written a poem about September 11th. Can you read an excerpt
of that for us?

Mr. SUNDIATA: Sure. I'll start--the poem is really--at this point, it's
still in progress and it's untitled and it's about five stanzas. And I'm
going to read the last two stanzas. What comes before is really just an
account of, you know, where I was, how I felt when I discovered the attacks
and also of that subway journey into the city and getting off the train and
going to ground zero. So I'll take up the poem at that point, the point at
which I go to ground zero, which I'm describing as the crater in the poem.

(Reading) `The crater recalled a lonely planet, a pockmarked moon of ridges
and man-sized valleys, earth movers, dump trucks and cranes. A priest kneels
in the piled up ash. The rescue stops for the Holy Ghost and the angel of
death to cross paths. Someone calls for the Jaws of Life. Earth, water,
fire, air. The sky, Ellington blue, pours over the harbor. Black smoke
curling into its soft watercolors, mixing those burning isms into a mute and
inscrutable beauty.

`I stood citizen to citizen three rows deep. A man flipped through The Daily
News matching pictures to the scene. A couple in a doorway argued hip-hop vs.
R&B in times like these. They look up from their ideologies to agree mercury
must be retrograde. A woman to my right worried a flag the size of a
handkerchief, the kind you get the fairgrounds. And, yes, little Emmett Till
came to me, a face that long ago cured my faith in that schoolboy lyric so
that I could no longer sing with the voice of praise as if it was my own. "O,
beautiful, for spacious sky."

`I walked the Avenue of the Americas, past the photocopy gallery of the
missing and the dead mounted on buildings and store windows and lobbies,
posted on police barricades along the streets. I searched for familiar faces
and found a few. But the names were wrong. Yet, I knew them all by their
fictions. The light-hearted Capricorn from Seven Hills playing with her cat
on a Crate & Barrel sofa. The Hindu newlywed who immigrated from India to the
golden city. Nestor, the brother of Melagros(ph), menacing the lens ringside
at the gym. A Miss Trinidad look-alike caught in a calypso on eastern
Parkway. And a pensive man in one of his moods, red, black and blue at the
root.

`I could see my own anonymous face in that show, caught and pasted above a
word or two about my love of swimming in the ocean and my taste for
sentimental ballads where what's missing and gone is half the song. I drowned
in a flood of burning jet fuel. Down was looking like up when I jumped with
my brains on fire. I ran from the falling tower and wandered for days. I
heard `a munturo in wawacoh(ph)' calling for miles away. I followed horse
trails through secret pathways. E pluribus unum. I went home and wrote
history to the bone. I have been written.'

GROSS: Writer and performer Sekou Sundiata. The poem and essay he read from
are published in the journal HEArt: Human Equity through Art.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Richard Thompson performs some of his music, and discusses
his artistic reaction to September 11
TERRY GROSS, host:

I'm Terry Gross, and this is a special edition of FRESH AIR commemorating
September 11th.

We asked the brilliant singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson to
play a couple of the songs that have been going through his mind since the
attacks. Thompson's gift for writing and interpreting dark songs seem to fit
with the gravity of the occasion. Lately he's been doing a show he calls A
Thousand Years of Pop Music, which includes folk songs, jazz and pop.
Thompson is British, but he's lived in California for the past few years.

Richard Thompson, welcome back to FRESH AIR.

Mr. RICHARD THOMPSON (Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist): Thank you very much.

GROSS: Now you wrote a song that relates to September 11th. Would you
introduce it for us?

Mr. THOMPSON: I suppose this is a Taliban's eye view of Western civilization.

(Singing) God never listened to Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker lived in vain.
Blasphemer, womanizer, let a needle numb his brain, wash away his monkey
music. Damn his demons. Damn his pain.

What's the point of Albert Einstein? What do we need physics for? Heresy's
his inspiration. Corrupt and rotten to the core. Curse his devious
mathematics. Curse his deadly atom war.

There's a message in the winds calling me to glory somewhere. There are signs
too deep for the dome like perfume in the air. And when I get to heaven, I
won't realize that I'm dead.

Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, small ideas for little boys. Adding to the
senseless chatter. Adding to the background noise. I had to hear my oratory.
Had to hear my inner voice.

And thank God I'm Botticelli scraping paint onto a board. Color is the fuel
of madness. That's no way to praise the Lord. Gray is the color of the pious
knelt upon the misery cause.

There's a message on the wind calling me to glory somewhere. There are signs
too deep for the dome like perfume in the air. And when I get to heaven, I
won't realize that I'm dead.

I'm familiar with the cover. I don't need to read the book. I police the
world of action. Inside's where I never look. Got no time to help the
worthless. Lotus eaters, mandarins, crooks.

There's a message on the winds, calling me to glory somewhere. There are
signs too deep for the dome like perfume in the air. And when I get to
heaven, I won't realize that I'm dead.

GROSS: Thank you. That's Richard Thompson performing an original song.

What inspired you to write a song from the point of the view of the Taliban?

Mr. THOMPSON: I suppose we get complacent with our negative view of the
West; you know, what we think of, you know, "The Price Is Right" and Burger
King instead of--I mean, we think, you know, civilization's pretty crappy, but
if you add it all up, there's some good stuff there. You know, I mentioned in
the song Shakespeare, Isaac Newton. I mean, that's, you know, fairly solid
achievement.

GROSS: You know, I was thinking that this song actually fits into your larger
body of work in the sense that you have written several ballads from the point
of view of a murderer who thinks that the world's crazy and he's normal.

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I suppose--I think often it's a great help to write songs
from the inside, you know, however twisted and devious the minds that you're
trying to get inside are. It's kind of a--a songwriting shortcut. You know,
you don't have to explain anything. You just, bang, you know, you're straight
in there. And it's such about six verses.

GROSS: Are there songs that have taken on a different meaning to you since
September 11th, songs whose lyrics have a new meaning?

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I think so. After September the 11th, I thought, `Well,
I'm glad I don't have too much work right now, because I'm not sure what I'd
sing,' you know. My own, you know, dramas, my own, you know, little musical
and lyrical problems seem very trivial at this point. You know, what would
you sing to people now to get people some sense of purpose and some sense of
spirituality, you know. And I thought, `Well, you know, you've got to sing
like, you know, fairly patriotic songs or very spiritual songs.'

GROSS: When you started performing after September 11th, were there any songs
that you added to your repertoire for those shows that you thought spoke to
the mood after September 11th?

Mr. THOMPSON: One of the first shows I did I was--a strange show I do at the
Getty Center which is a thousand years of popular music in an hour. It's an
unpretentious little outing.

GROSS: Cover songs from a thousand years.

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. Occasionally we do miss something out, but, you know
generally speaking it's extremely comprehensive. So this year I devoted, you
know, a segment of that show to songs that I thought were, if not
flag-wavingly patriotic, at least had a strong sense of national identity,
American national identity. And either that, or they were spiritually
uplifting. That just seemed appropriate at the time, and the audience was
really appreciated that as well.

GROSS: Could you do one of those songs of national identity, as you were
saying?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. This is a song--it started life as a sea chanty. It
was a work song on the old square-rigged sailing ships, probably sung in the
American military fleet, American Navy, but it's such a good song. It has
such kind of an open-ended spacious feel to it that it's become a very
wonderful folk song. And it mentions a river in Iowa. It's a tributary of
the Missouri called the Shenandoah. People in Virginia have a Shenandoah
River as well, and they teach school kids in Virginia to sing this song, but
it's actually the wrong river. I did very painstaking research on this, as
well.

GROSS: How did you first learn that song? Being from England, when did that
song first make its way into your consciousness?

Mr. THOMPSON: I think I learnt it at school.

GROSS: Really?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. I think--in an English school I think that was
considered a folk song with a capital F. You know, taught in that wonderful
school way. You know, very rigid and, you know, with all the smut removed.
Used to get a lot of, you know, Victorian versions of folk songs which were
really quite hideous, you know. It could really put you off folk music for
life. Thank God I recovered in time. And, you know, I love the sense of
space in this song. And I think, you know, this is one of those great
American songs that would do nicely as an anthem if you ever got sick of the
main one, you know. So here we go. And originally this would have been
called a response song, a work song. One person would have sung the first
line, and everybody else would have sung the next line. So you can all sing
along at home.

GROSS: We'll pretend I'm not here.

Mr. THOMPSON: OK.

(Singing) Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you. And wait, you rolling river.
Oh, Shenandoah I long to hear you. Oh, wait, I must wade across the wide
Missouri. And Shenandoah, I love your daughter. And wait, you rolling river.
Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter. Oh, wait, I must wade across the wide
Missouri. Oh, Shenandoah, I took an ocean. And wait, you rolling river. To
sail across the ocean. Oh, wait, I must wade across the wide Missouri. Oh,
Shenandoah, I'm bound to leave you. And wait, you rolling river. Oh,
Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you. Oh, wait, I must wade across the wide
Missouri.

GROSS: Richard Thompson. His Taliban song will be on his next CD.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Greg and Lauren Manning discuss Lauren's recovery from
burns she received during the attack on the World Trade Center
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is a special edition of FRESH AIR commemorating September 11th.

Many Americans have read the e-mails Greg Manning wrote to friends and family
while his wife Lauren was in the hospital hanging on by a thread after the
World Trade Center attack. He collected his e-mails in the best-selling book
"Love, Greg & Lauren." Lauren worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm that lost
over 650 people in the World Trade Center. Greg works for EuroBrokers whose
offices were in the south tower. But he was at home with their baby the
morning of the attack.

On September 11th, Lauren walked into the lobby of the north tower just before
the first plane struck. Before she knew what was happening, she was engulfed
by a fireball that shot out of the elevator shaft. Burns covered over 80
percent of her body, and her chances of survival were slim. Lauren was
hospitalized for three months. The first month was spent in a coma medically
induced by her doctors so that she would not have to experience the
excruciating pain, and so that they could perform the necessary skin graft
surgeries. Lauren came out of the coma October 15th.

What were your first thoughts on regaining consciousness?

Mrs. LAUREN MANNING (Cantor Fitzgerald Survivor): Looking at my husband and
just so happy to see him there. And my first thoughts where, `What had
happened?' You know, I knew I had gotten injured. I knew that it had been a
terrorist attack probably. You know, I wanted to know what had happened. I
wanted--I had no idea the Trade Centers were knocked down. I wanted to know
how the people were that I worked with or that worked for me and, you know,
where everyone was. I wanted Greg to get me some things from the office that
I'd left there.

GROSS: Greg, what was your approach to telling your wife what had really
happened? You know, that it was a terrorist attack, that most of the people
she worked with were killed in the attack, that the World Trade Center no
longer existed?

Mr. GREG MANNING (Husband): Well, I mean, obviously, all of the above, but
the real issue was, you know--and I talked to the people on the burn center
staff. I talked to her doctor. I talked to the psychologist there--which was
basically, `Don't volunteer information. It's so much to absorb.' I was very
worried through the period before she was awakened that, you know, we had all
had the deal with it and it had taken everyone in this country weeks to deal
with it, and then she would have to hear all of this on top of everything
else. But the concept was timing and dosage, you know. If she asks a
question, answer it honestly, but don't give her all the information at once.
And through her questions, she will discover the answers to everything. And
then over a period of days, you know, she found out.

GROSS: Lauren, did you suspect that your husband was consciously trying to
protect you from the magnitude of the truth?

Mrs. MANNING: Yes. He gave it to me in measured doses. A part of me I think
understood that, but at that time, I was willing to give it up to I guess how
they wanted to play it. Because I was really hurt, Terry. I--you know, it
was a struggle. Even after I woke up in terms of just, you know, breathing
and my daily existence there. It was the beginning of the fight.

GROSS: As you did learn what happened on September 11th, what the most
shocking part to you, the most upsetting part?

Mrs. MANNING: The most upsetting part for me was the loss of so many, many
friends and colleagues. I've been with Cantor for 10 years. One of our
sister firms in the business is Greg's firm. We know many, many of the same
people. In addition to the conference that was going on that day, there was a
whole other subset of people in our business. These are people that we've
grown up with--weddings, marry--you know, children, vacations, you know, going
out for dinner cocktails. So it's a very close-knitted industry. And the
devastation and the loss of everyone was quite overwhelming.

Mr. MANNING: There are still days where, you know, there are so many people
who are gone that you forget to think some people. And then one day you think
about, you know, `I'd like to call someone,' and you realize that they're not
around. You know, it's just such a profound thing that so many people aren't
here.

GROSS: Lauren, what was the extent of your injuries?

Mrs. MANNING: Greg, you can describe that, I think.

Mr. MANNING: Lauren was burned over 82 1/2 percent of her body. She had
widespread, you know, third-degree burns. She was--received extensive grafts
and she's done, you know, amazingly well. She did have some lung injuries as
well, but she's fortunate enough, you know, that she was able--you know, that
she's recovered very strongly. She did...

Mrs. MANNING: Yeah. And not all of it was certainly third degree. I've had
the tips of three fingers removed. So my manicure bill is cheaper. That's a
good thing. Other than that, you know, it's--you get on with it.

GROSS: I'm wondering how it's affecting your recovery from this tragedy to
know that your personal tragedy is part of an enormous national tragedy; that
your recovery is tied into something cataclysmic that happened to the whole
country?

Mrs. MANNING: I--you know, I'm very proud to be a citizen of this country.
And so my part is to, you know, fight through this, to get better for my
family and to, you know, what I believe should be a representation of, you
know, what we are as Americans; that, you know, you may knock us down, but it
doesn't mean we won't get back up.

Mr. MANNING: In terms of the context for me, I think that it somehow made it
easier to deal with the aftermath because the US government went after the
people who perpetrated the tragedy. So it was a horrible pain, but you also
felt that someone had acted to do something. And one of the most profound
experiences I had was to hear from a chopper pilot who was in the Afghanistan
theater, who was saying that his unit was fighting for Lauren. And one day
I was late with the update, and he wrote back, `You know, the guys in the unit
anxiously await word on Lauren's condition.'

Mrs. MANNING: Yeah. They flew F-16s with bombs with our names on them.

GROSS: Having bombs dropped with your name on it is a pretty potent symbol.
Did you feel completely good about that symbol?

Mrs. MANNING: Frankly, yes, I did. I think ultimately, you know, education
may be a longer-term solution in stopping things like this, but on behalf of
all of my friends that died, I felt good that there were people out there that
took up the cause to try to eradicate what was certainly a very evil act.

GROSS: Lauren, you've had to learn to live with pain. And with the
incredible itch of the healing of burn injuries. What are some of the things
that you do to carry on as you experience ongoing pain?

Mrs. MANNING: Oh, this is my daily job, getting better. So, yes, I may itch,
it may hurt, but eventually it will subside. And the more I work through it
now, the better the outcome. So it's like playing in any sporting event.
Anything I've done before in my life, you get in there, you get it done. So I
don't really consciously engage in it as something that overwhelms my daily
existence. It's part of it, and that will change.

GROSS: Greg and Lauren Manning, thank you so much for talking with us. And
good luck to you both.

Mrs. MANNING: Thank you, Terry.

Mr. MANNING: Thank you very much.

GROSS: Lauren and Greg Manning. His book is called "Love, Greg & Lauren."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: John Pizzarelli performs songs and discusses how he has
reacted to September 11 through his music
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is a special edition of FRESH AIR commemorating September 11th.

John Pizzarelli is a jazz guitarist and singer, and he's a New Yorker. He's
recorded many well-known and obscure jazz and pop songs. We invited him to
bring his guitar to the studio. I asked him if there were old songs that were
taking on new meaning for him since September 11th.

Mr. JOHN PIZZARELLI (Jazz Guitarist and Singer): There were a number of
things that I recorded a month after 9/11--actually, October 12, 13, 14, I
made a record with the George Shearing Quintet and we had chosen "September in
the Rain," "Lost April" and "Something to Remember You By" as a number of the
ballads on the record. And all their meanings had changed--you know,
"September in the Rain."

(Singing) The leaves are brown, came tumbling down. Remember in September in
the rain. The sun went out just like a dying ember in September in the rain.

And "Lost April," which lyric is `Lost April where did you go? Like winter
snow I saw you vanish.' There was something about innocence of that song that
spoke true. And then the one that has sustained me sort of is a song written
by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz called "Something to Remember You By."
You know, it's one of those things that just snuck up on you once you started
to sing it. It was quite moving. Would you like to...

GROSS: Would you sing it for us?

Mr. PIZZARELLI: Oh, sure. Sure.

(Singing) You are leaving me, and I will try to face the world alone. What
will be will be, but time cannot erase the love we've known. Let me but have
a token through which our love has spoken. You are leaving me, but it will
say you're mine. Oh, oh, give me something to remember you by when you are
far away from me, dear. Some little something meaning love cannot die, no
matter where you chance to be. Though I'll pray for you, night and day for
you, it will see me through like a charm till your returning. Just give me
something to remember you by when you are far away from me.

GROSS: John Pizzarelli performing "Something to Remember You By," a song that
was first popular in the early '30s and was revived during World War II.

We'll close with "America the Beautiful" as performed by bass player Charlie
Haden on his forthcoming CD "American Dreams."

(Soundbite of "America the Beautiful")

(Credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of "America the Beautiful")
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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