By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Kentwood resident James Kristan remembers the moment the world stopped for him. He was getting ready to paint the small garage door to his home when an WYCE host announced that a plane had hit the twin towers.
“I’m originally from Connecticut, but New York was my stomping grounds,” Kristan said. “It was the place that I hung out with my bros.”
Kristan, an Army veteran, spent the next eight years immersed in the day’s events and its effects. The result being the documentary “Moving on From 9/11: One Man’s Story,” which will air on WKTV’s Channel 25 at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, and again at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12.
“I interviewed firefighters from Battalion 1, some of the very first to respond,” Kristan said. It was actually the battalion chief of Battalion 1 who witnessed the American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the North Tower of the World Trader Center on Sept, 11 and immediately radioed a multiple alarm incident. Of the 412 emergency works who died during the World Trade Center attacks, 343 were New Your City Fire Department firefighters.
The events for the Sept. 11 attacks started when two planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were crashed into the North and South Towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon leading to a partial collapse of the building’s western side. A fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, initially was steered toward Washington D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Penn. after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.
For several years, Kristan attended the memorial ceremonies for the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 and the documentary includes some of those memorial tributes. Kristan also spent several months gaining access to the chapel in the Pentagon where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed and is one of a few allowed to film in the chapel.
“For me this was about healing,” said Kristan who said the attacks brought on his post traumatic stress disorder or PSTD. In fact, Kristan said every Sept. 11, he spends the day reflecting and remembering those who perished during the attacks and those who risked their lives to help others.
An artist, Kristan has moved forward. He has participated in ArtPrize in 2009 and 2013 and is planning to return in 2018. He has the largest 9/11 memorabilia collection that includes pieces of the World Trade Towers. He also is the president of the West Michigan 9/11 Memorial.
However Kristan said he will never forget what happened and will continue to educate others about the 9/11 attacks and how it changed the United States.