Many people consider Rudy Giuliani “America’s Mayor,” and many fire fighters who don’t yet know the real story, may also have a positive view of him. All fire fighters should be aware of the egregious acts Mayor Giuliani committed against our fallen on 9/11, and our New York City brothers and sisters following that horrific day. His actions post 9/11 rise to such an offensive level that they can only be seen as a personal attack on the entire fire service. The disrespect that he exhibited to our 343 fallen FDNY brothers, their families and our New York City brothers and sisters in the wake of that tragic day should never be forgiven or forgotten.
In November 2001, our brothers and sisters were continuing the painful, but necessary, task of searching Ground Zero for the remains of our fallen brothers and the thousands of innocent citizens that were killed, because precious few of those who died in the terrorist attacks had been recovered at that point. Prior to November 2001, 101 bodies or remains of fire fighters had been recovered. And those on the horrible pile at Ground Zero believed they had just found a spot in the rubble where they would find countless more that could be given proper burial. Nevertheless, Giuliani, with the full support of his Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, decided on November 2, 2001, to sharply reduce the number of those who could search for remains at any one time. There had been as many as 300 fire fighters at a time involved in search and recovery, but Giuliani cut that number to no more than 25 who could be there at once. In conjunction with the cut in fire fighters allowed to search, Giuliani also made a conscious decision to institute a “scoop-and-dump” operation to expedite the clean-up of Ground Zero in lieu of the more time consuming, but respectful, process of removing debris piece by piece in hope of uncovering more remains.
Mayor Giuliani’s actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill.
Fire fighters’ union leaders at the time attempted to meet with the Mayor to stop this despicable treatment of those who perished, but he refused to even see them face-to-face.
The scoop-and-dump continued. And when hundreds of family members of the fallen joined with fire fighters to protest Giuliani’s decision, he ordered senior officers of the New York
Police Department to arrest 15 of our FDNY brothers.
Giuliani modified his policy after the protest because public opinion was so strongly with our brothers and sisters. Ultimately, he was forced to put the firefighters back on the pile. Their protests were later proven justified as more bodies were ultimately recovered and those families given a chance for some closure and a decent burial.
Giuliani argued that the change was for our own safety, but his argument was empty and without substance. Firefighters had been on that pile since minutes after the twin towers fell – why all of a sudden, after nearly two months working on the pile, was Giuliani concerned about fire fighter safety? The fact is that the Mayor’s switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the final removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.
In the first few days immediately after the disaster, Giuliani had said he was committed to the recovery of those lost “right down to the last brick.” But, what he proved with his actions
was that he really meant the “last gold brick.” Giuliani crucified fire fighters after the protest and publicly stated that our brothers and sisters were essentially acting like babies, that they didn’t have the market cornered on grief. His insensitive statements demonstrated his
inability to grasp what members of the FDNY were experiencing.
What Giuliani showed is a disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen and those brothers still searching for them. He exposed our brothers and sisters to arrest. He valued the money and gold and wanted the site cleared before he left office at the end of 2001 more than he valued the lives and memories of those lost.
Our brothers and sisters deserved the right to continue with a full search for their lost brothers and other innocent victims. Proudly, as you know, the fire service has a code similar to the military, where we leave no one behind. Recovering even a piece of a turnout coat or helmet gave our FDNY brothers and sisters and the families of the fallen some small semblance of peace, something to honor. But hundreds remained entombed in Ground Zero when Giuliani gave up on them. The fundamental lack of respect that Giuliani showed our FDNY brothers is unforgivable – and that’s why no firefighter should cast a vote for him. His actions are an affront to the fallen, to our FDNY brothers and sisters and, indeed, to every one of us who has ever risked our lives by going into a burning building to save lives and property.
Brothers and sisters let me be clear, this is not a union issue, it is a fire fighter issue. Career or on-call, paid or volunteer, we are all fire fighters; thus we are all family! Mr. Giuliani has by his actions show complete lack of regard for us. We must now stand togther and hold him accountable for those actions. In the days following 9/11 we promised to "NEVER FORGET"; please don't forget when you go to the polls. If you want to hear from your FDNY brothers and the families of our fallen please go to: www.rudy-urbanlegend.com
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