Saturday marked 20 years since the September 11th attacks. WINK News sat down with a former carpenter who helped sift through the rubble after the terror attacks.
Darren Castiello says he was working as a carpenter during 9/11. “I was a carpenter in New York City union carpenter,” Castiello said.
But some may be wondering how a carpenter’s story is etched into history forever. “We actually built all the protection and the plate and the platforms and the ladders so that they can get in and do what they had to do,” said Castiello.
First responders had to sift through the rubble. However, it took thousands of others, many like Castiello, to work through Ground Zero. “You know, they weren’t finding people you know, it was… I don’t like to talk about [it] because I saw some stuff down there that people shouldn’t,” he said, getting emotional. “But I would do it again. Do it again.”
20 years later, he does still have some visible scars. “I have four disks replaced on my neck,” Castiello said.
But, the invisible scars are the ones that will never go away and that he won’t be able to forget. “Some images are just burned into my mind you know some things I’ll never forget,” said Castiello, getting emotional again. “Some things are hard to forget. You’d like to but you can’t.”
The sights, smells, and sounds replay in his mind, even some 20 years later. “You know, the sun was just coming up and the smoke was behind and I think just about every hair on my body stood up at that point. I knew I was looking at evil,” Castiello said.
“It was the smell of death and everybody… everybody knows that it was there,” he said.
“When they rang the bell twice, you had to shut everything off. And then you’d see the firemen calm and they’d line up, and they would drive the truck. And you know what they brought the person, the body parts out, wrapped up in American flags,” said Castiello.
But, on Saturday, he also tried to remember the positive moments that came in the weeks and months after the attacks. “I know everybody’s heard it. But you know, when they say I miss 9/12 because on 9/12 the whole countries stood together, everybody was nationalistic, they were patriotic, and they all focused together. We’re far from that today,” he said.
Castiello says he’ll never forget the lives lost but he also will never forget those that helped him at Ground Zero. Volunteers from the Salvation Army and the Red Cross were there every single day until all of the workers could go home.