CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Greg and Lauren Manning

Aired October 1, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight -- an inspiring story of survival and love, born from a terrible tragedy. Lauren Manning, a woman who seemed to have it all. Suffered burns over 80 percent of her body. Medical odds said she would die, but she vowed to live and fought her way through coma, pain, surgeries and rehab.
By her side, chronicling it all, her incredible husband Greg. He would have been caught in the same tragedy his wife was if he hadn't been taking care of their little son Tyler. The Mannings --- Lauren and Greg, courageous symbols of hope and healing. You're in for a very special hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Our guests are Lauren and Greg Manning -- New Yorkers both. Lauren was burned over more than 80 percent of her body at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Beat the odds and survived. Greg's powerful day by day e-mails about her battle for life are contained in "Love: Greg and Lauren." It's a "New York Times" bestseller in hardcover. It's now out and updated in trade paperback.

When did you decide this was a book?

GREG MANNING, WIFE SURVIVED 9/11: Well, I started writing initially so people could feel they there were with Lauren. The thing that bothered me the most she was sedated for -- I didn't know how long. Eventually it was six weeks. And everybody wanted to be by her side. After about six weeks I was approached by people because e- mails were being forwarded. Really I sent them to friends and family, then they sent them to sent them to their friends and family. People were...


G. MANNING: Yes. I wanted to write about it so people felt they were in the room with Lauren because it was one of the most compelling things I'd ever seen. From the moment I saw her after she suffered her injury, I found her to be this amazingly courageous and strong. She told me she decided to live for Tyler and for me and everything went from that.

KING: Now you both work in the World Trade Center, right?

G. MANNING: That's right.

KING: You did what there, Greg? G. MANNING: I was director of market data for Eurobrokers.

KING: And did not go to work that day?

G. MANNING: I was just running late. Had been later I would have been there.

KING: And where would you have been?

G. MANNING: I would have been either on the 84th floor or I was also registered for a conference at Windows on the World, but I'll never know.

KING: Did everyone 81 floor up die?

G. MANNING: We lost 61 people on the 84th floor which was an impact floor for the second plane. But a lot of people in our company did leave after the first building was hit.

KING: And, Lauren, you worked for...



L. MANNING: As director of market data sales. I ran that area of the business.

KING: Were you always in that early?

L. MANNING: Actually, I was running late that morning myself. So more often than not I would have been there quite a bit earlier.

KING: So where were you when -- you were in building one?

L. MANNING: Building one. And as I walked into the building, the plane had hit -- I imagine as I was getting out of the cab -- and the fuel just poured down.

KING: You never got into the building?

L. MANNING: No, I got into the building. I walked into the lobby. As I was turning toward the elevator banks, the fireball exploded out and caught me from behind, and literally pushed me toward the doors as I was running, and...

KING: You kept running?

L. MANNING: Oh, I kept running through the initial panel of doors, through the revolving doors, outside, and my only desire was to -- you know, you think of anything having to do with fire is try to find a way to put it out. So I was running across the street to this grassy median area, and...

KING: You remember all this?

L. MANNING: I remember everything vividly. The, you know, people around me, the debris that began falling, and it was...

KING: Did you pass out eventually?


KING: Never passed out?

L. MANNING: No, I didn't. Because as I was running I was, you know, praying, probably screaming to God, Please, you know, help me. Help me. You know, I can't -- I can't leave now. It's not my time to leave.

KING: You kept thinking that?

L. MANNING: I did. I had to make a decision. I could feel myself going under. And losing consciousness, and I would not. And I didn't, so this wonderful man came and helped me.

KING: Put the fire out?

L. MANNING: Yes, he did, and I was able to give him Greg's phone number.

KING: Wow.

L. MANNING: And we waited and more and more people, you know, were able to come out and many more. It was...

KING: Were you on the ground now?

L. MANNING: I was on the ground looking up at the building.

KING: How did he put the fire out? With a jacket?

L. MANNING: Yes, that's exactly how he did it.

KING: Were you in shock?

L. MANNING: I'm sure I was.

KING: But you remember all this?


KING: What happens to the body when it burns? I imagine the pain is incredible.

L. MANNING: Yes, like any traumatic injury that you might suffer, there's an extraordinary degree of pain. It's agonizing. I mean, it's all consuming.

KING: How did you come, Greg, to work in the same building, just by chance?

G. MANNING: We'd been in the same industry really for many years. And so, yes, it was really by chance. KING: How did you meet?

G. MANNING: We actually met at the office. But it was a couple of years before we were able to start dating. We actually started dating when we both moved back to New York with our jobs back to New York in 1997.

KING: Where are were you before that?

G. MANNING: I was in market data corporation up in Westchester.

KING: So you were married when you worked in the same building?

G. MANNING: That's right.

KING: You got married and just happened to work in the same building?

L. MANNING: Well, he was in World Trade two, I was in one.

KING: Do you get a call from someone?

G. MANNING: That's right. Lauren gave a Good Samaritan our phone number and he called me and -- he called me and he said, Mr. Manning, I'm with your wife. She's been badly burned but she's going to be okay. We've got her on an ambulance. The call cut off right as I said where are you taking her?

I got a call about 10:00 from St. Vincent's Hospital that she was there. And I walked about eight blocks. Tower two had just come down -- I didn't even realize it. And I found her on the 10th floor and that's when she told me she decided to live, and I was just overwhelmed by the most powerful desire to take care of her.

KING: When you saw -- were you viewing the first plane crash hitting the first building? Were you...

G. MANNING: I heard that it hit. I ran out and looked down south because we could see the World Trade Center from our terrace. I remember was holding my son in my arms. I don't remember very clearly what happened. Twenty minutes later I saw the second plane hit and I realized that I probably just watched my company basically be annihilated.

KING: Did you think your wife would be killed?

G. MANNING: Oh I was -- I felt that she was dead. I kept wishing for a way that I could figure out she had survived because I could see the hole was right below Cantor Fitzgerald from that first plane. If she was upstairs I didn't think she stood a chance.

KING: You're now in St. Vincent's hospital?

L. MANNING: That's where I was initially taken, yes.

KING: And then eventually to New York? L. MANNING: Yes, that evening..

G. MANNING: Well that was -- they sedated Lauren at about 5 p.m. And she remained asleep really for six weeks. But about -- that night at 6:30 we arrived at the burn center New York Presbyterian.

KING: What do you remember about those six weeks? Any memory?

L. MANNING: It was just a very vivid dream state. You know, I actually felt that I was in some cage of sorts and I was fighting my way back, hoping that someone, you know, someone -- you know any one of my family would see me, that I was taken away like as a prisoner somewhere. And...

KING: Still in pain?

L. MANNING: Yes. Very various characters, various people in my play -- life played different roles. So it was -- it was a full-time life I was leading within this induced state.

KING: They have to be careful what thy they put on you, right, because anything can bring pain to a burn victim, right? Touch can bring pain.

L. MANNING: I mean any burn survivor will tell you -- or any injury, you know, yes, and, you know, anything that's too hard on your skin can hurt you.

KING: When we come back, Greg will pick up with his arrival to the hospital. It's now out in trade paperback with an updated chapter. It's "Love, Greg and Lauren." This is LARRY KING LIVE, we'll be right back.


G. MANNING: Wednesday, September 19, 2001. For those of you who may not know the story, she was entering the lobby of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when a fireball exploded from the elevator shaft. She and two others managed to run out of the building, all three of them on fire. A passerby across the street ran to them, reaching Lauren first and put the flames out. She was at St. Vincent's, were I joined her. And then at 5 p.m. Tuesday, rode in the front of the ambulance when she was transferred to the burn center at New York Presbyterian. When I got to St. Vincent's, she told me that she had decided to live for Tyler and for me. So I am taking her at her word. Thank you for all your support and prayers. Love, Greg and Lauren."




G. MANNING: November 12, 2001. When I entered her room, Lauren said, "Hi, Greg." It was the softest whisper, and I wasn't even sure that I had heard it. It took a second to register that the rush of air had been my name. And in truth, there was no mistaking it. I said, "Are you talking?" And her eyes smiled as she whispered, "Yes." I looked at her and I said, "God, that's wonderful. I am so" -- and then my voice trailed off and my eyes misted and the lump in my throat stopped me for a moment. I took off my glasses, dried my eyes and told her the word I had meant to say, "Happy."


KING: OK, Lauren has been badly burned. By the way, do you know this Good Samaritan well now?

G. MANNING: We have not met him. We've communicated via e-mail and via telephone. He has asked to remain private, but one thing, he's superstitious. He thinks that, you know, when he -- he wanted to wait until Lauren was completely better. But he's followed us every step of the way and he's had great things in his life, too.

KING: Did he work in that building too?

L. MANNING: He was in the World Financial Center.

KING: Nearby?

L. MANNING: Right across the street.

KING: What you feel for him must be -- don't you want to meet him?

G. MANNING: We do.

L. MANNING: Absolutely. You know, and I believe as he does, when it's right, he says, you know, we'll meet. That's okay with me.

KING: OK, Greg, you get to the hospital. What happens? Must be pandemonium.

G. MANNING: It was actually -- I just kind of walked in. Nobody even noticed me. I found Lauren on the 10th floor.

KING: How did you know to go to the 10th floor?

G. MANNING: I just asked information. They said, She's on the 10th floor.

KING: They had her name down and everything?

G. MANNING: Yes. She'd been admitted because of the severity of her injuries. But really no one bothered me. Moments after I came in, I think they closed the hospital to anybody but doctors --- you know, doctors and patients.

KING: So you took the elevator up.

G. MANNING: Took the elevator up, walked in.

KING: She is some kind of room? ICU?

G. MANNING: She's in a room. She was actually at that point in a room with two other people and was later moved to a private room. I looked at her, I thought -- you know I told her she looked great. She was draped in white sheets. It was obviously a terrible injury.

KING: How about her face?

G. MANNING: Her face looked good to me.

KING: Didn't look badly burned or scarred?

G. MANNING: I thought it looked as if she had a deep tan. But more than that, I just remember her looking at me and saying -- and basically saying, I just -- that she wanted to go to a burn unit and then she told me she decided to live for Tyler and for me.

KING: And what did you feel?

G. MANNING: I can't describe the power of love that I felt and the strength and love I felt and the desire to rescue her, to help her. At the same time feeling completely helpless and just feeling like I wanted to make sure that everything that could possibly be done was being done for her.

KING: And how did the transfer work?

G. MANNING: At about 5:00 a doctor who was doing rounds secured a bed for her at the burn center. Up until then they'd been afraid -- they didn't think they could move her because they felt the city was locked down.

KING: St. Vincent's doesn't have a burn center.

G. MANNING: St. Vincent's does not have a dedicated burn center. But people felt the city would be in chaos. That there might be thousands of injured. So, they admitted her and were caring for her, but then at 5:00 that evening, she was -- they secured a bed for her. They sedated Lauren.

KING: How did they move her?

G. MANNING: They had a nurse standing by her helping her breathe with a...

KING: Ambulance?

G. MANNING: Oh, yes. I rode in the front of it. And they took her up to -- we drove...

KING: Sirens or none?

G. MANNING: No sirens, very quiet. There was no traffic in the city. We drove up. We were the only vehicle on the FDR and we drove up to the New York Presbyterian. I remember we walked in there. It was so quiet you could hear the gurney creaking. KING: Really?

G. MANNING: Yes. There was no traffic anywhere. We went upstairs. Lauren went...

KING: No conscious during all this?

G. MANNING: No, she's -- at that point she was...

KING: Sedated?

G. MANNING: And her bed was surrounded by about eight -- eight people, mostly nurses and some doctors. And from that point on, you know, it was a full-on fight at the burn center.

KING: And how touch and go was it?

G. MANNING: She had a burn over more than 80 percent of her body, which meant she had less than a 20 percent chance of making it. And I remember when one of the doctors said, she's hanging in there. We're going to do everything we can to pull her through. I don't want these guys to get another person. When he said that, the anger in his voice -- I realized they were as committed as I was. It gave me a feeling she was going to have that chance.

KING: What were you doing with your anger?

G. MANNING: I was trying to channel my anger into staying strong for Lauren and doing pretty much everything I could. I kept saying, what can I do? And they told us when a patient's sedated, their hearing is the last sense to go and she could probably hear my voice, even if she couldn't put together what was going on. So I basically tried to stand in her room and talk to her.

When I started to find things I could read to her -- and that's when I settled on poetry because it was something I could read for a long time and a friend of mine gave me a book of a "Poem a Day." And I just read to her. Sometimes I would read 50, 60 poems a day.

L. MANNING: I break out into spontaneous literature.

KING: What do you remember of this?

L. MANNING: I remember, as I mentioned earlier, just I was living another world in this dream state. But I'm sure that -- that the touch of Greg and my family being there and the voices and the words meant an enormous feel to me.

KING: You don't remember specific poems or anything?

L. MANNING: Oh, I --- You know, there's one certainly that Greg would recite to me when I was coming out of it, that was by Robert Burns, that...

G. MANNING: "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose."

L. MANNING: Just a beautiful poem.

KING: Who else from the family would come?

G. MANNING: Well Lauren's mother and father came up and stayed with us three month. They were with our son every night, they were with Lauren every day.


G. MANNING: Yes. I put them on the day shift, I took the night shift.

KING: Do you have parents living?

G. MANNING: Yes, I do.

KING: Did they come too?

G. MANNING: They came -- my -- they came, but they didn't come up. I didn't really have anywhere for them to stay. I mean we stayed in touch over the phone and they came up. I remember my father wanted to very much wanted to come see Lauren.

L. MANNING: But they were both up at various points.

KING: Was there a day they said she's going to live?

G. MANNING: There was, but it was very late in the game. And it wasn't for -- they had predicted that she would be out of the -- they kept saying at one point she'll be out of the woods when her burns are closed. And that day came. I think the day before Thanksgiving or possibly on Thanksgiving.

KING: How many surgeries?

L. MANNING: Quite a few. Many. I mean I've had 12 or so today and many more to go.

KING: How many will there be? Do they know?

L. MANNING: You can't predict that. You know, it focuses on form and then, you know, cosmetic aspects. We'll see. You know, I'm apparently a good healer. So we'll see what happens.

KING: Why do you wear gloves?

L. MANNING: Style.

I wear them because -- very simply -- these garments help push the blood away and so in essence you starve the scars and they flatten out.

KING: Back with more of Lauren and Greg Manning. The book is now out with an additional chapter. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) G. MANNING: My love is like a red, red rose, that's newly sprung in June. My love is like the melody that's sweetly played in tune. As fair thou art, my bonnie lass, so deep in love am I, and I will love thee still, my dear, til all the seas run dry. Til all the seas run dry, my dear, and the rocks melt with the sun. I'll love thee still, my dear, when the sands of life shall run. And fair thee well, my only love, and fair thee well a while. And I will come again my love, though it were 10,000 miles.




G. MANNING: November 21. There was one simple overriding question -- once the surgery healed, was Lauren really out of the woods? Had she reached the stage where her prognosis had significantly improved? She'd been expected to need 83 days to be closed -- long, difficult days with major surgeries, repeated infections and her major organ systems in overdrive. One day for each percentage of total body surface area the burns covered.

But she needed only 71 days. Her doctor said, Yes, she's out of the woods, with a quickening and lightening of his voice. Out of the woods. The odds have finally changed.


KING: One of the things extraordinary in this book by Lauren and Greg Manning is the return to awareness, nurses saying it was very unusual and you write that one moment she's showing traces of a smile, the next, hearing complex statements and giving immediate responses.

How do you explain that?

G. MANNING: They bring every burn patient out of the sedation over time. And sometimes some patients take awhile to really get oriented.

But when they brought Lauren out of it, she was there. She was looking around, she was smiling. I just think that, you know, she was awake, she was strong and I really felt all along, even when she was sedated, the way she was sailing through surgeries, I just sensed this real, I guess, serenity and strength and courage in her.

And that's one of the things that so profoundly affected when I was writing the e-mails every night. People wanted to know how she was doing and I just felt that I couldn't possibly make 100 phone calls and tell everyone how fabulous she was and how strong she was.

When she finally woke up, she couldn't talk yet because she had a, you know, she still had...

KING: Tubes? G. MANNING: ...a tube in her throat. But I just remember this big smile, and I just remember her, you know, looking around and just being there, and it was so exciting.

KING: Now the e-mails started when?

G. MANNING: On September 19 I sat down. I'd lost my office. I'd lost my address book. It took me a few days to get my act together.

KING: Who did you send them to?

G. MANNING: I basically asked friends who were calling and saying, How's Lauren?

I said, Send me your e-mail address. Every night I'd get home, and I'd sit down at 11:00, sometimes I'd write until 3 a.m.

KING: And in the book you print those letters?

G. MANNING: That's right. The book is a compilation of those e- mails.

KING: Are you a writer?

G. MANNING: I was a writing major in college. But I think -- I guess I am now.

KING: How did you feel when you first read them?

L. MANNING: To be honest with you, I mean, I read various things that Greg's written throughout the years and he's a beautiful writer, but I haven't been able to read the book because it's very close to me at this point.

You know, I'm focused on today and moving forward. I don't need to retrospect at this point in my life on, you know, laying there for three months unable to reach out and, you know, touch and hold my son or be with my husband and family.

KING: How do you feel when you look in the mirror?

L. MANNING: It's different, but it's still, you know...

KING: You're here.

L. MANNING: I'm here. I'm so thankful for that, and, you know, it gets better.

KING: Better with every surgery? Better every day, right?


KING: The body's amazing, isn't it?

L. MANNING: Beyond amazing. The capacity that we all have to regenerate, you know?

If you have a conviction, and mind-set, I believe you can do so much.

KING: And what did the doctors say was the importance of will, your will? To live?

L. MANNING: I mean, I think Greg can probably answer that.

KING: Can't prove this.

G. MANNING: I think it was of overwhelming importance. There was -- Lauren had an incredible desire to live, an incredible strength of character, an incredible determination, one of the most motivated people you'll ever see.

Everyday since she woke up she's willed herself out of bed. She willed herself to walk. She's willed herself to do so many things.

But we were both really sustained by this wave of love that came back at us, especially once I started writing. I would get these wonderful notes that were full of just prayers and wishes for Lauren's recovery and I would be able to share them with her.

I was never happier than when I could stand over her bed and say thousands of people around the world were praying for her. And so, you know, she -- Lauren is the leader. I mean, Lauren is, you know, my inspiration and my hero, but I, you know, our friends, our family and so many strangers helped.

KING: Did these stories get out? That strangers were able to write? I mean, there were stories in print about the two of you.

G. MANNING: Well, what happened was, the e-mails were forwarded by friends to their family members who then forwarded them on to others and then I would hear back from people...

KING: Like chain letters.

G. MANNING: who would have to say, I'm so and so's mother's cousin, but I'm praying for you, and it really was remarkable.

And then there were stories about Lauren in the news and we got so many cards from people. They just -- they hailed her and said she was this wonderful inspiration to so many people because she was so strong.

KING: Who paid the medical?

G. MANNING: Medical has been covered by...

L. MANNING: By insurance.

G. MANNING: ... by insurance.

KING: Your insurance covered all of that? Have your companies taken care of you? Has Cantor Fitzgerald taken care of you?

L. MANNING: They've been wonderfully supportive. Howard and, you know, everyone there has been with me every step of the way.

KING: Your own company?

G. MANNING: Eurobrokers -- Eurobrokers has been very wonderful to me. Very supportive from the beginning.

KING: So you're -- you are not in any financial stress?

G. MANNING: Well, I took a leave. I, you know, we've been helped. We received help from charitable agencies and we're grateful for that, but, you know, the future, I think, is a bit uncertain for us, and, so, that's a concern.

L. MANNING: It's very uncertain. I mean, in terms of, you know, what will happen and I think that that certainly weighs on our minds.

KING: Our guests are the Mannings, Lauren and Greg.

We'll be right back.


L. MANNING: Let's show everyone how we can color. All right. Hey Kaley (ph), are you going to help? Are you going to help us, too?

Oh, the star looks wonderful. You've gotten awfully good, Tyler. Yes, do you want another color? Oh, that's a nice color.




L. MANNING: Go ahead honey, start your engine! Start your engine! OK. Whoo! Whee!


KING: By the way, our guests are Lauren and Greg Manning. The book is "Love, Greg and Lauren."

And a portion of the proceeds go to where?

L. MANNING: Cantor Fitzgerald.

G. MANNING: And Eurobroker relief funds.

KING: They both have relief funds to help the children, and for those who -- others who...

G. MANNING: To help the families of those who were lost.

KING: Did you lose many friends?

G. MANNING: Yes. I lost the person -- people in the offices all surrounding mine. And it's something that we all just had to deal with. I mean, those of us who were in that business and working on those floors, that was one of the toughest things.

That's what I knew would be one of the toughest things for Lauren after they woke her up was learning everything that had happened.

KING: Did you lose a lot of friends?

L. MANNING: A great number of friends. I've been with Cantor nearly 10 years, and it's a very close-knit industry. I mean, we would, you know, go out for dinner together, weekends away, summer houses, weddings, births; very tightly knit group.

And so it's been devastating on that level.

KING: It is within the realm of probability that you could go back to work some day, isn't it?

L. MANNING: I would -- you know, I pray and I hope, and I certainly have a strong conviction and belief in my company and everything that they've done. And, you know, I want to be part of that cause in moving forward.

KING: You would go back?


KING: What about you?

G. MANNING: I would too.

But for me the last year's really been about helping Lauren make it and getting Lauren home. And then I've been happy just to have the last -- you know, to have the time to relax with my family.

KING: Do you want more children?

L. MANNING: Yes, I mean, we would love that opportunity.

KING: How is Tyler doing?

L. MANNING: He's great. He's wonderful. He's 22 months old, and, you know, a terrific age.

KING: All right, now, when you leave the burn unit, you went somewhere else, right?

L. MANNING: I went to Burke Rehabilitation.

KING: Now what is that?

L. MANNING: It's like a halfway house.

KING: In the White Plains?


G. MANNING: That's right.

KING: They transferred you there, and what happens there?

L. MANNING: Extensive and intensive daily therapy. You know, six to eight hours a day really six days a week. And on the seventh I would, you know, do things as well. You know, there's no stopping. There's a clock, and you've got to use it to work with you in terms of getting better, you know. So it was a very rigorous time.

KING: How long were you there?

L. MANNING: Three months.

KING: Do we know how many burn victims who went to New York didn't make it?

G. MANNING: I think that there were five or six who were very highly critical, with very deep burns. But the most outstanding thing to me was the level of conviction and intensity with which they cared for everyone there.

KING: Tell me about homecoming day.

G. MANNING: It was a wonderful day. For me it was an historic day. I went up there in the morning...

KING: Drove up?

G. MANNING: Yes, drove up.

KING: Tyler with you?

G. MANNING: No, we left Tyler home for that.

I drove up, picked Lauren up. We had already moved all her stuff out of her room. She got in the car and we drove, you know, not even half an hour, drove home.

KING: What was it like driving home?

L. MANNING: It was a beautiful, sunny day; which I can't really be in, so I couldn't appreciate that too much.

But it was glorious. I was alive. I was going home. What could be better?

KING: Had Tyler been to see you in the hospital?

G. MANNING: Many times. The first time Tyler was reunited with her was in November. And I remember I wrote that e-mail with tears streaming from my face because it was the most remarkable day I had ever seen. KING: Why?

G. MANNING: Because here's this child who's only 12 months old, really and, you know, he loved his mother, he recognized his mother. They couldn't even touch each other at that point, but she sang him a song and he smiled. And I will never witness anything more remarkable than that day.

KING: No reaction to how she looked or anything?


KING: Just being a boy and his mom.

G. MANNING: Just a boy and his mom. That's exactly right.

KING: Was the therapy tough?

L. MANNING: It was very grueling. But I'm used to tough jobs, so I figured, you know, this is my opportunity, and I looked forward every day to it. I honestly did.

It was incredibly hard. But, you know, without -- you make a choice, and you've got to make it count, is my feeling.


L. MANNING: Right.

KING: The e-mails went from when to when?

G. MANNING: From September 19 until December 11 I wrote every day.

KING: Then she went to rehab?

G. MANNING: That's right.

I actually continued writing during rehab, and the afterword is taken from e-mails I wrote while she was in rehab.

KING: Did somebody say to you: This was a book?

G. MANNING: What happened was that my e-mails were forwarded to a friend who was an author, and then he suggested that his editor contact me. And that's how it came about.

KING: Do you ask a lot of whys? You know, why this attack? Why me?

L. MANNING: I don't say "why me" when I look in the face of this tragedy and how many others aren't here. You know, it happened; it's a horror; it's completely unacceptable.

But, you know, I focus my -- you know, any anger that I have, really, on the hope for the future and getting better and being able to partake in society and, you know, hopefully trying to work to make it better.

KING: We'll be right back with Lauren and Greg Manning. Their book is out in trade paperback.

Don't go away.



L. MANNING: Is that a bunny? Is that a bunny rabbit? Show daddy the carrot. Show daddy the carrot. Go ahead!

All right!

How many people are here? How many? Count with mommy: One, two, three, four, five.



KING: We're back with Lauren and Greg Manning. This incredible story on the aftermath of 9/11 -- the fireball, that terrible day.

You have a lot of frustrations -- like daily frustrations? The things you can't do?

L. MANNING: There's a certain level that I focus on the things I can do, and, you know, working toward those that I can't do.

KING: Something you can't do that you miss the most?

L. MANNING: That's a good question. To a degree there are so many things. So...

KING: Little things?

L. MANNING: Yes. Finally tuned things that, you know, I just can't button that well, for example. I mean, there are many small daily tasks that, you know, I need two hands instead of one, and, you know, focusing on regaining the strength in my hands and the overall mobility that we all take for granted.

KING: Walking is fine?

L. MANNING: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: What part -- was the legs the least effected?

L. MANNING: Yes. I mean, you know, I got hit across the whole back, but my hands took a hard hit. I got beat up there because -- as anyone would -- if you are hit by something your reaction is to use your hands to try to defend yourself.

KING: What a bizarre morning that must have been. You must have been going, what the hell is going on?

L. MANNING: At one point I just remember saying, I can't believe this is happening to me. It was surreal. And, you know, days I still can't believe it happened.

KING: What are you going to tell Tyler?

G. MANNING: Well, Tyler -- one of the reasons I wrote was because no matter what happened, I wanted Tyler to know what his mother had done to get back to him. And it wound up being a very happy story with a happy ending because it's really a story of this incredible journey back.

But he's growing up with it. He's there every day, and so I don't think there's going to be any time we just sit down and tell him. When he's ready he can certainly read the book. There'll be many times before that we can tell him bits and pieces.

KING: Do you feel like you've -- that old axiom -- cheated death?

L. MANNING: It wasn't my time. I wouldn't say I cheated it. I fought against it, and to, you know, God's will and the prayers of the world through family, friends and this circle that really erupted through the e-mails, I'm here.

KING: Are you people of faith?

G. MANNING: Stronger faith now. I never stopped praying from the moment this started. And when people wrote to me, they said, What can we do? We'll do anything -- anything. And I just said, We need your prayers. And so, you know, I think that that made a huge difference -- I do.

KING: Did you ever get the question over angry at God?

G. MANNING: I felt many questions. But I feel strongly this was an evil act committed by men. And that, you know, I just tried my hardest not to let an evil act define me or define us. And so I just tried to stay positive because I needed to be there for Lauren -- I needed to be by her side.

KING: What about your faith, Lauren?

L. MANNING: Well I had a long sense of faith and belief before, and it's not changed whatsoever.


L. MANNING: No. Not at all. It's why I'm sitting here today certainly, I believe one of the reasons.

KING: There are some who say, Why did you make me get burned? Why did you allow this to happen to me?

L. MANNING: Well there's good and bad. I mean, and that's... KING: There's good in this?

L. MANNING: No, there's good and bad in life and existence. So it's part and parcel, I think of all of us being here.

KING: Do you feel the kinship with other victims and other victims who are not being as well taken care of as you. I don't mean physically, I mean financially well taken care of.

L. MANNING: I would have no comment on that.

G. MANNING: Absolutely we feel a very strong bond with other injured victims and we knew so many people who died. We mourn everyone.

But the injured for me are a special concern because I do think this is a group of people that bear the physical scars of this terrible tragedy. A lot of them are feeling lonely and isolated and forgotten. They weren't really included in a lot of the special measures taken to help the families. You know, this was so horrible and affected so many people. But I do have a concern that people who are terribly injured down the road will need a lot more support, and I'm worried...

KING: That's what I meant by it.

L. MANNING: As I said earlier, we have that concern -- obviously for our family and for all of the other survivors that are in, you know, similar situations.

KING: Do you know other burn victims?

L. MANNING: I know other burn survivors, sure.

KING: You met them at rehab and hospital?

L. MANNING: Yes. I call us "The Burning Crew." You know we -- yes. I do, and we have a very close sense of kinship, you know, having gone through this.

KING: You must have a special feeling about that doctor at New York Presbyterian.


KING: What's his name?

G. MANNING: Doctor Yur (ph).

L. MANNING: Doctor Yur.

KING: He was on our show and -- what a man.

L. MANNING: What an incredible human being. I love him dearly and God knows I'll be there with him for the rest of his life. I just hope I have an opportunity to, you know, do some small thing in return for what he's done.

KING: Incredible unit there the nurses, the people. So dedicated.

G. MANNING: I remember when I first spoke to the Doctor Yur two days after September 11. That's when I started to feel the first moment of hope since it started. And the burn nurses are amazing.

KING: They are amazing. Back with our remaining moments with Lauren and Greg Manning.


G. MANNING: Saturday, November 17, 2001. Tyler Jacob Manning at the age of one year, two weeks delivered a performance today that was exceeded in its beauty only by that of his mother. The encounter between the two of them was -- quite simply -- the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The dignity amid suffering that she presented at that moment, the love and the longing and the desire to resume her life were overwhelming. This is what she lived for, to see her son, that she was about to live the thing that had carried her across the field of flame to her rescue. If there are angels wings in this story they unfolded here at that moment and at this one.




G. MANNING: From the afterward, March 2002. I've told the truth. Lauren has lived it. Let me end with this. Lauren gave me love and a home -- that I realized in an instant on September 11 -- was what I wanted to live for. We love and remember the dead, but we love and embrace the living. It is always possible, even with her grievous injury to put matters into perspective. The wind blows, the sounds echo, the seasons return and we take a breath and realize that we are still very blessed to have her and to have each other. Even to be sad together because to feel is to be alive. Tyler was waiting for her and there's far more laughter now than there are tears. Lauren is back. She is home.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with the Mannings. Do you feel inspirational for others? I mean you've been obviously with the success of the book and people know all about your story all over the world. Do you feel you've been inspiring to people?

L. MANNING: I'm just doing what I need to do and what I want to do to get better and be there for Greg and Tyler and my friends and family.

G. MANNING: We've gotten -- I think I can say without any reservation that Lauren is an amazing inspiration. One of the things that's happened since the book's been published is we've gotten a flood of letters from people from all walks of life that say that she's an inspiration and, really, that her story has, in many ways, changed their lives.

Many people write that it's helped heal wounds of September 11.

We heard clergy that have used this story in sermons. We hear from members of the armed forces who say that's what we're fighting for. People have reconciled relationships because they say, Let's not sweat the small things.

I think Lauren's done what she's done to get back to her family. She's never faltered for a moment and people just see that that was her choice. That's was how she coped with a terrible, injury.

KING: People don't know how they would react until something major happens. You can hypothesize it.

Did anything Greg do during all of this surprise you?

L. MANNING: No. He is in so many ways my hero, my inspiration and he has stood by my side, not a moment's wavering, and I feel like the richest woman in the world because of it.

KING: So, when you learned about the e-mails, you didn't say, Greg did that?

L. MANNING: No. I mean, we -- it was a great mechanism for him to be able to cope, and for people to be involved with us that couldn't be there on a daily basis. So, I thought it was a good thing.

KING: Anything Lauren do surprise you?

G. MANNING: I have to say, I always knew that she was strong, but I could have never have known she was this strong.

I think you said it. You never know how someone is going to react to something like this. You could say that I wasn't surprised but in actuality I probably have been surprised by every moment because this is the kind of thing that I don't know how I would have ever coped or handled it.

And I think I was amazed every day of her strength and the fact that, you know, no matter how she felt, and she's had difficult moments, let's not pretend. She never quit.

You know, she's seen this as -- she's an athlete. She's seen this as a marathon. You know, she's said it many times and she's going to win it.

KING: Did the Yankees play any -- some part in this?

G. MANNING: Actually, one of the first things Lauren had a chance to do one night when I was at the burn center, was to tell me to go to the World Series game that her friend had invited me to. In the early days she had the Yankees on, and I just remember walking by her room and the room of one of the other very ill patients and they had, you know, the Yankees on full blast. You know, it was a wonderful thing.

It really -- I can remember one day her doctor said, you watch the Yankees last night? You should have been sleeping. But she was really into it.

KING: Have you gone to any games?

L. MANNING: Not yet. But I'm certainly looking forward to.

KING: I'm sure Mr. Steinbrenner will have you in the box and salute you. He watches this program all the time. I'm sure you'll be there post haste for the playoffs and whatever comes ahead next year. You may be opening day.

G. MANNING: We're big fans, that's for sure.

L. MANNING: We'll look forward to just being part of the fan club.

KING: Lauren, when you reflect on all this, where did this come from, this inner you, do you think?

L. MANNING: You know, I certainly think, you know, my parents played a, you know, significant part in my upbringing. You know, things happen, and, you know, you move forward.

And I feel very strongly that, you know, you have an opportunity every day, and I don't ever want to look back and say, I wish or I could have. I want to give it the best shot I can. Because I think I know from me there's a piece to that. You know, I'll never need to retrospect and say, if only.

KING: And what has this taught you, Greg?

G. MANNING: Well, it's taught me that I'm married to one of the finest women on Earth.

KING: Obviously.

G. MANNING: And strongest. But it's also taught me really to appreciate every minute of my life. I lost so many friends and I saw Lauren go through such terrible, pain.

I'm thankful for every moment that we have together with our family, and I really respect the power of hope to get you - the power of hope to get you through adversity. I mean, what really got us through were very simple things: were love, support of so many people, including so many we didn't know and really the heartfelt prayers of a lot of people.

I just, you know, appreciate the simple things.

KING: So, from bad comes some good and some meaning to all this, right?

G. MANNING: The way I put it was, I reject there can be a silver lining to something so evil. But, you know, many people have said it.

We saw the best. We saw the best in our friends and the best in our companies and we saw the best in this country, and I'm very proud of the way the city, I'm proud of the way so many people have reacted to this.

I feel great confidence in the quality of people that I know and that I live with.

KING: And how do we feel, Lauren, about our good samaritan?

L. MANNING: I'm looking forward to the day, and I'll always be there for him.

KING: He doesn't want to meet you now?

G. MANNING: He -- his -- I think it was very difficult for him because he was in the middle of something and he did a lot.

And I think he's just biding his time. But I respect it. I've spoken to him and, you know, his strength is heartfelt.

KING: Do you feel funny around big buildings? Do you have queasiness?

L. MANNING: No. , not at all. You know, if something is going to happen, it's going to happen, and the type of, you know, in essence warfare that occurred last year is something that's, you know, stealth. Tall building, short building, I think that it sees no buildings.

KING: No paranoia then?

L. MANNING: No barriers. No.

KING: Loud sounds don't make you jump extra high or...

L. MANNING: No. Just Greg's voice.

KING: Do you two ever argue?

G. MANNING: Never. I do what I'm told.

KING: I wouldn't argue with her. Wouldn't take the risk.

I thank you both very much for an illuminating hour.

L. MANNING: Oh, thank you, Larry.

KING: And I wish you all you wish yourselves.

The book is "Love, Greg and Lauren." A "New York Times" bestseller in hardcover, now out and updated in trade paperback. We thank you very much for being with us. We thank our crew here in New York as well. "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next.

Lauren and Greg Manning and Tyler, we wish you a pleasant good evening.


© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.