It’s Friday, September 10th and SSG Salvatore Giunta is being lauded for being a Medal of Honor recipient. The SSG is not a neophyte when it comes to valor: He has been awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, two Army commendation Medals, the CIB and the Parachutist Badge. Simply put, he has bigger balls, a bigger heart, and a greater sense of responsibility and patriotism than most citizens.
Tomorrow is Saturday, September 11th, and nine years ago, 2,977 people were murdered. At the time, SSG Giunta was 16 years old; he enlisted in November 2003.
I have many friends who served and who are still serving. “Serving” sounds like something you have at a warm family meal, perhaps Thanksgiving or Christmas or this past week’s Rosh Hashanah or to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Serving to SSG Giunta means being shot at, dodging IEDs, or keeping suicide bombers away.
While the SSG is receiving richly deserved accolades, I’m afraid that fewer and fewer people are as passionate about remembering the victims of 9/11/2001 – the day so many lost their Ozzie and Harriet view of our world. Many here in New York are fervently against the proposed mosque near Ground Zero and their voices are passionate about their views; local news outlets are allocating an increasing amount of space to all the different angles of the issue.
Yet these same people have lost their voices when it comes to questioning why the Towers haven’t been rebuilt. Some have laughingly forwarded emails about building a “proposed” gay bar next to the proposed mosque. Many are saying “enough with people who worked the pile and are complaining about cancer or leukemia.” 9/11 news stories are now printed on pages numbered with two digits.
Time heals but time also forgets.
Never forget the day that served to galvanize a very special segment of a generation of men and women and inspire them to serve. Give SSG Giunta all the credit and adulation he deserves but remember my friends Billy Burke, Captain of 21 Engine who ordered his men away from the Towers and then ran back in, and Dave Fontana, who on the day of his wedding anniversary told his wife that wouldn’t be long and that they would have breakfast together. Billy has never been found and Dave never celebrated his wedding anniversary.
I still laugh at the memories of my friends who were murdered.
I still cry.
I can’t forget.
I grew up in the shadows of those towers on the lower east side of Manhattan. And ten years prior I worked on the 90th floor of One WTC facing where the first plane hit. In my mind I know what those people saw but can never imagine what they felt.
I will never forget.
This is a powerful tribute Steve. I’m surprised too, today, at the lack of mention of this watershed event.
Awesome Post Steve, I remember it as we talked last night on the phone…looks better in print…
WE WILL NEVER FORGET….
For those first Responders….FDNY NYPD & other Emergency Services that responded to the Towers….They showed what “Uncommon Valor” really means….God Bless ’em
Thanks for writing this, Steve. I remember that day well, we had just left NYC a few days earlier and as I sat up in bed that morning – it was heart breaking to watch in horror and feel so helpless. Jim was still with the Fire Marshal’s Office that year and 3 of his inspectors were retired NYC firefighters. They literally pulled out all the old helmets, badges, and other gear from NYC with their former fire company numbers, piled into one car and headed to NY and yes, they were welcomed as part of the companies who helped search for days for their comrades. They did not even care if their jobs in Florida would be lost, their sense of “brotherhood” prevailed. (Jim wanted to go so bad, but had to stay back and hold the office together.)
My niece, who was a newlywed at the time was trapped inside the city and was one of the people who spent 3 nights sleeping on the lobby floor of La Guardia Airport. She did not get out of the city until I contacted one of my Long Island recruiter friends – who drove to La Guardia and picked her up, took her back to Long Island and helped her find a rental car. He fed them, then showed them the way out via The Verrazono-Narrows Bridge.
We will never forget the kindness of the recruiter, who was a complete stranger to my niece. He is no longer around – went back to Italy. But, there are thousands of other stories of how people came together during that time to give aid and help in any way they could – perfect strangers.
WHY CAN’T IT BE THAT WAY TODAY? Strangers helping Strangers! I WILL NEVER FORGET!
Steve – I have nothing to add to this incredible post I received by email. I’m just stopping by to publicly acknowledge it. ~Karla