GREENSBORO, NC -- It's hard to believe it's been 12 years. Twelve years since terror slammed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Twelve years since heroes tried to take control of a plane over Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Twelve years since 2,996 people died. Men and women, moms and dads, spouses, brothers and sisters, children, friends. They were just going about their lives. And then they were gone. And a nation was changed.
As we honor those lost and hearts broken, we turn to the Greensboro man who was put in charge of picking up the pieces, literally. D-H-Griffin Jr. and his team had the daunting task of cleaning up after 9/11. On this anniversary, he reflects as only he can. His story and his pictures most people have never seen.
A scrap yard, home of what some would consider the unwanted and unimportant. But hiding here is history. D. H. Griffin Jr. starts revealing it next to a hunk of rust. "As you can see this it says port authority of New York, a ten ton piece, twenty thousand pounds, it's off the 69th floor."
The 69th floor. Of Tower one. Of the World Trade Center.
"The Trade Centers had 36 of these beams from the sub-basement to the 110th floor."
In all, seven pieces from Ground Zero rest in the D. H. Griffin scrap yard. "Early on for the first several years we had people come in and put flowers on it."
Knowing these are more than pieces of metal, Griffin shares his memories. He uses a cutting torch and cuts pieces off the relics. He's given them to fire departments, police departments, and search and rescue across the state. "It's part of history, and I want people to never forget."
The frames in his office are a constant reminder - this job was different. "We were overseeing 4000 people, working 24 hours a day. The emotion that was tied to it as an American. The people, the loss of life. It was a tough project, emotionally, physically and spiritually."
When David headed to New York two days after 9/11, he never thought he'd be in charge of the clean up. He just wanted to be part of it. He started on the bucket brigade. But his expertise stuck out -- like his accent. "By September 25, some of the decisions we'd made had saved the city millions of dollars, and they come to us and said they'd to put us in charge of the whole project. I told them I needed to think about. They said 'You have 2 hours.' So probably one of the biggest decisions in our company history and we had two hours to make it."
Twelve years later, companies still call DH Griffin because of his work at Ground Zero, and it is his work there that colors everything he's done since. "It makes you more appreciative of each and every day. Something can change in an instant that not only changes your life but everyone's life in America."