April 25, 2007
On Sunday, April 22, at the Lakeview Museum Auditorium in Peoria Illinois, the last known survivor of the North World Trade Center tower shared his experiences over the past five years since 9/11.
Mr. William Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican native-U.S. citizen, worked in the World Trade Center complex as a janitor for 20 years. With what came to be known as the â€˜Key of Hope,â€™ he saved hundreds of lives on September 11, 2001.
After helping pass legislation for victimsâ€™ rights, William continues to tour--not just the United States--but the world around to tell his story. The story that Rodriguez tells is not just one of heroism, but also one of censorship.
In Walks the Theory.
There are no theories for what happened that day except for the official story released by the government, Rodriguez claims. Rodriguez presents a saga so compelling, all must listen.
Starting with his most recent tours of the world in Malaysia (the United Statesâ€™ best Muslim Allie) and then in Venezuela, he spoke of acceptance by the people and the media of these countries without censorship. William was brought into an office with Venezuelan authorities and told that an FBI agent from the United States was attempting to cycle through hotel records. Venezuela worried of an attempted assassination and gave him protection. Along side of the body guards, a constant video documentation of his 5 day visit in Venezuela was taken to catch any possible attack.
â€œAgain people say, I have used a tragedy to politicize the event, to make a name for themselves [sic].â€ Rodriguez states. â€œI always get accused of that. â€˜Oh, William Rodriguez is probably making millionsâ€™, Ladies and gentlemen, I was homeless last year. Giuliani received three and a half million dollars to do a book ... [Giuliani] gets 125,000 dollars for a speaking engagement, each one ... and half a million dollars for Giuliani partners, now who is profiting from 9/11, who is?â€
In addition to his janitorial services, Mr. Rodriguez entertained for 30 years. A practitioner of magic, an illusionist, and an escape artist, he does not fear large crowds. With these experiences, he is also very aware of the ability to manipulate an onlookerâ€™s reality. This plays into what he believes happened in the past five and one half years since September 11, 2001.
Being a surviving victim and true hero of September 11, William felt a strong call to serve people. Still, William had many questions about what occurred on that day.
After being honored as a hero by countless individuals, officials, and media outlets, he was offered a congressional seat and millions of dollars in campaign finance. He had learned some politics in his work as head janitor for the office of the Governor of New York, so politics was something he believed he could handle. He felt he could do some good for people.
Rodriguez lobbied for legislation that would give benefits to children that lost parents on 9/11. When he saw that the IRS held no compassion for the victims, he helped pass legislation that would exempt them from paying taxes for two years. He even fought for an investigation into the attacks of 9/11.
William went to then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to ask for a formal investigation but met nothing but excuses. He tried going to media outlets, but found his witness of explosions untouched. With enough pressure from family members at his side, an investigation started.
"Never Forget", William states, "If you Loose a daughter, if you loose a son, if you loose a brother, you have every right to ask for a formal investigation into what happened to them." Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was tapped by President Bush to lead the commission, but William helped put together the case for conflict of interest against the wannabe chairman. This led to Kissinger stepping down.
During the investigation of 9-11, William's questions continued. He noticed tampering and withholding of evidence, diversionary testimony from people not in the building on that day and William did not understand why the investigation was being held in Washington DC rather than where the majority of the crime was committed.
William noticed something terribly wrong when he was only allowed to testify to the commission behind closed doors. His worries were confirmed when he found no mention of his testimony or name in the 'official story' known as the 9/11 Commission Report.
William Rodriguez is a true American hero. Not in the sense of a professional baseball star who has never missed a game or prince charming saving the princess from her evil step mother, but in the sense of looking evil in itâ€™s beady, fiery eyes and doing everything possible to save lives.
Why would they exempt his story?
William Rodriguez worked as a janitor in the North World Trade Center tower for 20 years. William should have been there bright and early at 8:00 a.m. to begin his tedious job of cleaning all the stair wells of the 110 story building. Trying to call in sick on September 11, Rodriguez was told that there was nobody else to do his job and he must arrive to work.
William showed up a half hour late for work. If on time, he would have ascended to the 106th floor to enjoy a free breakfast from the Windows of the World restaurant before starting his day. Instead, at 8:46 a.m. William attempted clocking in. Talking with his supervisor in one of the basement levels, they witnessed a massive explosion below them. An explosion so powerful it blew them upwards, knocked the ceiling tiles off and started the sprinklers. This was in the basement level of the World Trade Center.
Just as William was to voice what he thought the explosion was to his supervisor, they witnessed another large explosion from above. This was just moments after the lower level explosion. Flight 11 had collided with the North Tower. He then saw a man, Philippe David, running from another room burnt all over his body and screaming, "Explosion, Explosion, Explosion!"
This was the basement level of the World Trade Center. How many people lost their lives in the lower level explosions is still not known. William then went to pick up the phone to call for help, but felt another explosion.
Not being an expert on bombs, William had also survived the attack on the World Trade Center from 1993 and could tell there was a similarity between what he felt on then and what he felt on September 11, 2001.
â€œAs a survivor of the initial bomb of 1993, it was not only osmosis, I believe exactly what happened years before, so thatâ€™s why when that explosion happened I put one and one together and say that itâ€™s a bomb. Just to clear something up, Iâ€™m really not sure what it was, I am not an expert in explosives but you donâ€™t need a degree on science and technology of fire safety to know what a fire looks like, you donâ€™t need that (sic)â€
After realizing that there was no security where there should have been, William hoisted the burned victim and ran outside. He could hear people screaming, "a plane hit the building". Despite calls to stay outside, William rushed back to the tower.
Looking up to the top of the building, William could see the intense smoke and knew he needed to do everything he could to help his friends in the upper levels. He did, after all, have one of five master keys to the stair wells. The other four were possessed by the Port Authority who had left the building.
He was given the key after an injury left him stranded in a stair well back in 1996. He new he could use this key to help people out of the building and get firefighters to upper levels.
The Key of Hope
The entire world was watching the events unfold on their television screen leaving those in the North Tower clueless, only being aware of loud thunderous explosions. After rescuing several more people from the basement that also witnessed bombs, William proceeded up the stair well to assist people out of the building.
He used the Key of Hope to unlock the stair well doors. According to New York City fire code, every sky scraper, 50 stories or higher, mush have a system of locked doors to prevent fire from climbing. He had the master key that unlocked these doors.
On his way up, helping firefighters along the way, he kept hearing explosions. When he got to the 27th floor, he stopped with several fire fighters that were suffering from exhaustion. The weight of the equipment carried by the New York Fire Department combined with the mountain they were climbing had taken its toll.
William did not have this limitation which made him of utmost use. As one of the fire fighters broke into a vending machine to get water for his crew, William called his mother in Puerto Rico. She told him to get out of the building. He told her he would not go any further up towards the plane impact site.
William lied his mother.
As he climbed from floor to floor, unlocking doors, he kept hearing explosions. When he reached the 33rd floor he located his utility closet. There he stopped to get some ventilation masks because of an awkward chemical smell found throughout the building. He then heard a frightening sound from the floor directly above him. The sound was that of heavy machinery being moved. This scared William because he was aware the 34th floor was vacant. He did not even bother unlocking the door to the 34th floor and proceeded upward to the 39th floor.
On the 39th floor, William met with New York Police and Fire Department officials where he witnessed another great, powerful explosion. Despite the other plane hitting the north towerâ€™s twin, it was still felt in the World Trade Center 1.
William desperately wanted to continue upward but was asked not to by a police officer. William ran down the stairwell only to stop on the 27th floor to help a man in a wheelchair out of the building. He made several trips back up and down the North World Trade Center to help guide people out.
As he reached the lobby and out of the building, he heard screams, "Don't look back, donâ€™t look back!" As human instinct has it, he looked back to not only see the bodies of those who jumped out of the building, but the building itself crumbling downward upon him. He ran and dove underneath a fire truck where he used his training as an escape artist to survive the lack of oxygen for hours of being trapped under debris.
He told his story to the media but began to see his comments about explosions being silenced. While raising money for victims and working to pass legislation for victims rights he turned down and opportunity to run for congress in the Grand Old Party along with the guaranteed millions of dollars in campaign money.
William worried more as civil rights were being eliminated through the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, domestic surveillance reaching upwards to 3 million people and the elimination of Habeas Corpus. The links between Iraq and 9-11 angered him to the point where he protested the invasion of Iraq several times on the streets of Manhattan.
When asked about the 9/11 Commission, he does not hesitate to say â€œCover up, total cover up ... Remember the 9/11 Commission was created and they spent more money on the Monica Lewinsky trial than on the investigation of the biggest crime scene in history, it is ridiculous. They didnâ€™t do the right thing, it was a whitewash, I believe the commissioners were either tied up or they were lied to by the different intelligence agencies, but up to now five year after I believe that the report is just a bunch of bull.â€
William has been on a relentless tour to tell his story as only he can, hoping each time to grab a hold of someone that will listen. During his tour, he is calling for a new independent investigation into what happened on that fateful day and to start holding people accountable
â€œOf course, this is a mission, but it is a mission not of money, not for attention, no. Itâ€™s a mission of truth, to bring out how they have used 9/11as an excuse to eliminate, to eliminate our civil rights.â€ Rodriguez exclaims. â€œFive years after 9/11, the families are still searching for answers... we are still suffering, we have no closure...they use our tragedy for political gain.â€
Regardless of when you hear William Rodriguezâ€™s story about the events of September 11, 2001, it is just as powerful as the day they originated.
â€œAsk questions and demand answers...You have to take it up on your self to make a change. Itâ€™s very simple, you have no other option.â€ - William Rodriguez, April 22, 2007 Peoria Illinois.
This Article is still being edited, be sure to look for updates.