Monday, January 28, 2002

best of humanity

The following is an excerpt from Rudolph W. Giuliani's words about the September 11, 2001 attack on the USA.

"We have met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity."

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States of America awoke to find itself under attack.
In the City of New York, hijacked commercial airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center. Less than two hours later, both 110-story Twin Towers collapsed, killing some 5,000 innocent men, women and children. It was the deadliest day in American history, costing more lives than the attack on Pearl Harbor or D-Day.In the aftermath of this unimaginable tragedy, New Yorkers, and all Americans, have united as never before. Inspired by countless examples of courage and generosity, we have met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity. The darkest day in our long history has led to our finest hour.

I was having breakfast in midtown when I received word that the first plane had hit the northern tower. It was a clear blue-sky day, but some New Yorkers still held on to the hope that the crash could have been a terrible accident. When the second plane began its deadly descent into the southern tower, we knew that we were under attack.

I arrived at the western base of the World Trade Center to witness the most horrific scene of my life—the buildings were burning, shooting flames and black smoke toward the sky, while debris and human beings fell to the ground. The firefighters and police were already there and the rescue effort was under way. New York's Bravest and New York's Finest were doing what they always do—running toward danger. Among these were the most decorated men in the Fire Department, living legends such as First Deputy Commissioner Bill Feehan, Chief of the Department Pete Ganci, the Department Chaplain Father Mychal Judge, and the rising star of Manhattan's Rescue 1 Squad, Captain Terry Hatton. The best of the Bravest put themselves in the gravest danger. Like many thousands, they would never be seen alive again.

The magnitude of the horror is still hard to comprehend. Those proud Twin Towers that crowned our skyline for a quarter century no longer stand. Even more devastating is the loss of thousands of individuals who were killed in the attack. All were innocent. All were heroes.

Those who went to work in the World Trade Center on September 11 were engaged in the quiet heroism of supporting their families, pursuing their dreams and playing their own meaningful part in a diverse, dynamic and free society. We will never know many of the selfless acts of courage that occurred among them that day, but they will occupy a sacred place in our hearts and in our history. They will never be forgotten.

The brave men and women who entered the Twin Towers to save those inside are already recognized as heroes for the ages. Survivors of the attack speak of stairwells crowded with people determined to get downstairs to safety, while firefighters, police officers, and other emergency workers were going in the opposite direction—running upstairs toward danger, toward the heart of the fire, determined to save lives. Three hundred forty-three members of the New York City Fire Department lost their lives on September 11—a devastating blow to a Department that had lost 778 men since it was founded in 1865. Members of the New York City Police Department, the Port Authority Police, EMS workers and court officers also made great sacrifices amid startling acts of bravery. Not a single one of those heroes died in vain. Their courage, selflessness and professionalism saved more than 25,000 lives that day—making it the most successful rescue operation in our nation's history. These were true American patriots. They gave their lives in defense of our liberty.

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