Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giuliani headlines 9/11 remembrances

The former mayor returns to his alma mater
to share his story of 9/11.
For your consideration, here is my story on Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking at Manhattan College that appeared in this week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press. 

By Brendan McHugh 

No one has the same experience of Sept. 11 as Manhattan College alumnus and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and he shared his story in front of hundreds of wide-eyed college students Friday afternoon. 

While some lectures at Manhattan College end up with students checking cell phones and whispering to one another within a few minutes, Giuliani held the room for over 30 minutes, discussing the day’s horrific events and the conclusions he has drawn in the 10 years that has followed. 

Jump below for the rest.

“So much of what I believe, what I know and what I can do was formed here at Manhattan College,” Giuliani, class of 1965, told the crowd in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers. “It is very emotional for me to be back here. This is a very difficult time to relive.”

He added that the last time he and Monsignor Alan J. Placa, who was in the audience and was a friend of the former mayor's, was in the chapel at the same time was when he found out President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Not much that “America’s Mayor” said was new—he’s told the story hundreds of times on television and in front of crowds over the last 10 years—but for the students, many of whom were in grade school at the time of the attacks, his words were still overwhelming.

“His words made me feel like I was at the foot of the World Trade Center when it happened,” said Manhattan College freshman Jack Kennedy. “His words are really powerful and they really just dug right into your soul. It got to a lot of us.”

Giuliani spent the first half of his speech talking about what he did that day, how he was trapped in a building for some time, and his interactions with various FDNY and NYPD officers in coordinating a plan. His most inspiring words came in the second half, when he talked about the bravery and courage he saw in the city in the moments and days following.
Giuliani views photographs of the Manhattan College alumni
who died on 9/11. The display is open to the public until Nov. 18.
“I couldn’t conceive that the whole building was coming down,” he said, referring to when the first building came down. “We were trapped in our building for 20 or 30 minutes.”

He said the wreckage looked like what he thought a nuclear bomb would cause.

“Sept. 11 was the worst day in the life for me,” he said. “But it was also the most inspiring day.” He added that he thinks about it every day. “Horrible things, and unbelievably wonderful things. It’s with me all the time,” he said.

“Probably one a week, or once a month, or pretty regularly, I have someone come up to me and tell me ‘I want to thank you because I was in a building and there’s no way I would have gotten outta that building if I didn’t see your firefighters going into the building when I was going out. It kept us calm…relaxed…we didn’t crush each other and block the exits.’”
Giuliani and Dr. Brennan O'Donnell share some words before the ceremony.
Dr. Brennan O’Donnell, president of the college, introduced Giuliani and praised his role as an inspiration to the city after the attacks.

“The leadership of Mayor Rudolf Giuliani and his role of uniting the city in its recovery efforts is, of course, legendary,” O’Donnell said. “His passionate faith in New Yorkers assured us that we could indeed find our way forward.”
Manhattan College's quadrangle was covered with American flags.

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