A film by Edward Rosenstein.

"A hero is a man who does what he can." -- Romain Rolland. This documentary tells the inspiring story of the impromptu rescue of nearly half-a-million people from lower Manhattan after the World Trade Center buildings fell - by boat. Scores of commercial and private boat captains answered the call of duty that day, notwithstanding the unknown risks and tremendous effort required. Said one rescuer, "Average people, they stepped-up when they needed to."


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  • David

    I did not know about this amazing rescue. God Bless those NYers. David from Pittsburgh.

  • Vanessa

    WHY wasn't THIS ever mentioned as part of the 9-11 rescues? This is amazing. I never knew THIS took place. I am so proud & amazed @ the bravery & heroism of these ppl. THEY are TRUE HEROS in my book.

  • Heather

    I have watched this video many times. It has never disappointed me. This video leaves me inspired that Americans are basically all good people who want to help each other!

  • Karen

    Makes me cry every time I watch!!!

  • Loni

    I did not know this had even been done.....So many important positive happenings and unsung heroes makes the heart grow. THANK YOU.

  • Kim

    WOW! What incredible people. Amazing. I am truely in awe of these people!!

  • Sombat Souphakhot

    You have a great heart.

  • neilly

    one heart. everyone has a connection, with not many degrees of separation. the heavens are rich.

  • Jeff

    It wasn't the government (at any level) who saved these people. It was their fellow man who took on extraordinary risk to help people in need. THAT IS WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT!!!

  • Carol

    With all the replays of 9/11, I can hardly believe that I hadn't seen this amazing video until now. Thank you for sending this and highlighting the courage of these heroes who sailed into the unknown to rescue others.

  • Susan


  • Glenna

    To see such love and compassion pour out after such a tragic event. That's God. That's triumph! That's America!

  • wayne

    Compassion for others! Something we don't see much in our world these days.

  • Marian

    My mom sent me this video and I made the mistake of watching it at work... I started crying at my desk. Absolutely amazing. Thank you for highlighting these heroes!

  • Lily

    What inspired you about this video? This is what I call a true "hero"…..job very well done!!

  • Elizabeth

    The resiliency and generosity of the human spirit. Thank you.

  • Pati

    WOW! How inspiring! I look into the faces of these loving people and just want to hug them,tell them thank you for being you and for them to know they are loved by a stranger in Colorado who grew up in New Jersey!

  • Sharon

    My Hometown stepping up to the plate. Let's hope we can continue this spirit when the financial meltdown hits us.

  • Barb

    These too were heroes. God Bless them all.

  • Sybresha

    Everything was inspiring in that video! This is what the world needs people coming together in a time of need. There is so much crime in the world we need people to do the unexpected! Thank you!

  • Cindy

    Everything! The heart element was huge. We live best when we live by the "giveaway" principle.

  • Loretta

    To all you cynics - ha!

  • Marilyn

    Ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing! God bless them!

  • Dianne

    Inspirational...how we should live everyday of our lives!

  • AnkurJ

    "I never wanna say go through life and say, 'I should have'. I tell my children: If you wanna do something, you do it."

  • cp

    Humanity at its best

  • James

    Lovely to see how people respond. What was surprising to me was the hesitation which people had to overcome in order to decide to do what was obvious. I took this as a sign of how strong our societal conditioning is, to follow the rules, and wait to be told.

  • Steve

    Thank you, as a boat owner I cryed... People will come together, and they did... Thank you to all who floated lives free...

  • Abbie

    The will of simple people ; that just want to help; God Bless America!

  • Jerry Nelson

    They stepped up knowing they needed to. As the boat captain reminded me, I never again want to say I should have. Far better I try and fail than fail by doing nothing.

  • Jeffrey Farrar Dean

    In a Maniacal World it take maniacs to sometimes do the right thing.

  • PN

    This brought me to tears. I had never heard this story, but I will forward to everyone I know . . . Thank God for blessing America. . . . "and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea." My heartfelt thanks to them.

  • Sue

    lest we forget

  • jenn

    WHY does it take a catastrophe to bring out the hero that is in each of us? I cried through most of the video remembering that day, noting how REAL everyone, including the TV newscasters were that week. Wondering why can't we just express our greatness everyday with out the tragedy to precipitate it?

  • Lynn

    Amazing what every day people can do when they pull together! Amazing story! Thank you for tell it so we never forget!

  • Ricc

    I'm glad someone told the untold story of these heroes. I wanted to cheer.

  • deb

    I had no idea about these heros! What a beautiful story. Good people in a horrible situation. God bless Amercia!

  • Maggie

    This is who we are as a country. We are not out for ourselves alone. We are in this together public agencies and private citizens. We care for one another, deeply, selflessly. This is my America!

  • Vicky

    This is a beautiful reminder of the good that is inherent in each of us. What magnificent men. Thank you.

  • Janet cardulla

    Romain Rolland, Thank you for your Heroism ! I am so grateful to you! and to everyone who has helped in 9/11. I will never forget! Never! Can't stop Crying! Love Jan! God Bless You All!

  • cindy

    THESE guys, the big boat captains and private operators, the firefighters, police, they're the heroes - they are the truth of that horrible day, perhaps the only truth. Thank god for all these fine human beings and for this video that tells a part of the story that day that I hadn't heard before. I'm inspired by their goodness.

  • hayley

    This was so touching. Brought many tears to my eyes. The true love of all humanity brings so much joy to my soul!!

  • Ginger Gauldin

    Pure gratitude to all those who made that evacuation miracle possible.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    AGREED, "if you want to do something, you DO IT. Never go through life saying I should have." If only more people would do the Right thing, the kind thing, EVERY DAY and not only when there is a tragedy. HUG.

  • sugu

    i Salute you,heroes,this is the purpose of our life,living for others,

  • sandra

    I will never forget Mr Ardolino's bravery or his statement at the end of this documentary; "I never want to go through life saying, I should have. If I do it, and fail, I tried. If I do it and succeed, better for me" He is a true hero and lover of his fellow mankind. God bless him and all of the people involved in this boatlift, who put their fears aside, and reached out to help another human being in need.

  • Elizabeth

    I am so proud of these Americans. I have tears rolling down my checks. It is comforting to know there are so many caring people in our country.

  • Janis

    History repeating itself with the average person, hero. That is love.

  • Rob Weed

    Our New Yorkers are the greatest people who love one another. I will never foget! Thank you from every aspect of our city. Tears filled my eyes. GOD BLESS New York! A new Yorker who was in the military at that time.

  • Page 1

  • Explore the rich documentary record of individual heroism and civic cooperation on 9/11 from the archive amassed by the New York Times.
  • Check-out the Heroic Imagination Project, designed to help transform all of us into heroes-in-waiting.
  • The next time you see or hear of an ordinary person answering a challenge in a way you find to be heroic, sent them a note letting them know that their actions have inspired you.

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