William Rodriguez was the last survivor out of the North Tower of the World Trade Center before it collapsed on September 11, 2001. He tells a compelling story about his experience and his life since that fateful morning.
I was fortunate enough to hear him speak Sunday night at a church just a block and a half from my house. In graphic detail, he told about his experiences of that day and how his life has changed. He shared pictures of his journey that has literally taken him around the world.
He has helped write legislation to benefit survivors and families of the victims. He has helped many organizations raise millions of dollars. He has been to the White House five times. He has visited with heads of state in many foreign countries. He testified before the 9/11 Commission. He is a masterful storyteller. And, coming from another professional storyteller, that being me, he said, "Wow! Thank you so much. That means a lot to me."
He's also had his life threatened. Been discredited by so-called experts who were not at the WTC on 9/11. But most notably, not one word of his, and many other eye witnesses of the attacks who testified before the 9/11 Commission had their names, or their personal accounts of the day, even mentioned in the official report!
He saved untold numbers of lives that day because he was in possession of one of the five master keys to the stairwells in the North Tower. According to him, the holders of the other four keys ran out of the building to save their own lives instead of risking their lives to save others like William did.
Against orders from more than one of his superiors, he made several trips up the stairwells and unlocked doors to let people out. Oh yeah, William was employed by a maintenance company. He was a janitor in the WTC for twenty years. His job for the last ten years had been to clean the stairwells of the North Tower!
He has told his story to millions of people around the world, many through Spanish-speaking television. Yet, here in America, most people have never even heard of him. His story needs to be heard before it's too late.
After his speech, he told me how he has started to show some of the effects of all of the toxic dust he inhaled that day. His lungs have, among other toxins, asbestos in them. He told how many of his friends have already succumbed to the affects of asbestos poisoning and other respiratory diseases.
I urge you to go and hear him tell his story if he ever comes to your community. Or, go to his website, William911.com and view a video of one of his speeches. You won't regret listening and learning the story of a true American hero. I certainly will never forget his speech.