An independent journalist who traveled to New York City six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks is releasing never-before-heard interviews with high school students who were near Ground Zero.
Joseph Fenity visited NYC following the attacks for an independent documentary that aired in 2002. Fenity will now air the additional audio-only interviews with the students on Saturday, which marks 20 years after the attacks.
He said he found the old tapes going through his storage locker.
"I have several tapes from old projects but suddenly I found these New York City tapes from 2002 and it took me back to the time when I went to New York City six months after 9/11 and interviewed these students at this high school [Stuyvesant High School] so I immediately saw these tapes and I thought I've got to convert these and get them out in a digital way," he said.
Fenity recounts what it was like speaking to the students and visiting the city following the attacks.
"Everything was still very much on edge, and anywhere you could see an American flag draped. I just remember speaking to these kids and the strength and resilience that these kids showed was just unbelievable and truly inspiring. Stuyvesant is a school that is just about three blocks from the World Trade Centers, Twin Towers once stood so these high school kids, 15 to 16 years old, were kind of an eyewitness to history really so what a lot of us saw on our TV sets at home, they saw out the window of their classroom so they have some really interesting and compelling first-hand accounts of how that day in history unfolded for them," he said.
The interviews did have video, but he is taking away the video element for the audience.
"What I've taken away is the video and so now only audio is out there and I've done that because that's what I want them to take away with them. I think the visuals of 9/11 can be distracting. I think it's seared in our memory anyway. We've already seen that but we haven't heard 9/11. We haven't heard these voices," said Fenity.
Fenity shared clips of some of the audio recordings with FOX 11 ahead of the podcast launch.
One student recounted the grim day.
"At first, we were like ‘Oh God, a bomb went off,’ and then it just looked so big and someone said that they heard a plane. The first thing that went through my mind was not oops this is an accident because it looked like a direct hit. They didn't think the second tower would fall on us, but they thought that when it was going to fall, it would send such a shockwave that Stuyvesant would just collapse on itself," the student said.
Another student recalled the evacuation procedure.
"They locked us down in school and then they organized us to be evacuated out the north side. They told us to walk north. I'm not sure if they had that planned in case of an emergency," he said.
Fenity said there are several interviews with students that will be shared Saturday.
"To listen to young people talk about how they can get through something like this, I think it inspires all of us. We've been through a lot these past 20 years, these past two years and I think to look at young people and hear from them can be really inspiring and healing. What we're doing by re-releasing this at 911tapes.org, is giving them a voice in a way they haven't had before," said Fenity.
The additional tapes will be released Saturday at www.911tapes.org and via SoundCloud.