Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attended the dedication ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial Museum May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 foot high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21.
In 2008, Examiner Jack Dennis had the opportunity to meet Giuliani in San Antonio. The American leader expressed his thoughts on his personal change, compassion, hope and faith during the disaster and aftermath.
“Most people are surprised to know that I changed more from having prostate cancer than from September 11,” Giuliani stated, backstage at the Alamodome, where he was to give a speech later. “Dealing with the cancer forced me to gain the wisdom about the importance of life and the lack of control we have over death.”
“I needed the confidence and character I gained from coping with the cancer to prepare me to deal with, and even survive, the trials of September 11,” the former mayor said.
Giuliani found himself surrounded by firefighters, police officers and emergency workers on that fateful day in 2001. The worst attack on American soil became the most successful rescue operation in our country’s history under his leadership.
That evening, as Giuliani prepared for bed, he found solace in the words of Winston Churchill and “realized that courage doesn’t simply materialize out of thin air.” Giuliani attended hundreds of funerals and visited Ground Zero daily. “I grew physically and emotionally exhausted,” he recalled. “When I saw the families of the victims, I was revived knowing if they can do this, I can do it.”
“Courage begins years before, sometimes in our early childhood, as we develop our character,” he spoke. “Every choice we make in life can strengthen or weaken our character.”
Here are highlights of Mr. Giuliani’s views.
“When I was in my teens, I seriously planned to become either a priest or a doctor as I have always been faithful and enthusiastic about my faith in God and helping others. Religion was a favorite topic I enjoyed talking with my teachers about. Prayer and faith in God provided me with the strength I could not acquire from any other source. When things are tough, it’s always a good idea to pray for the guidance and strength necessary to get us through.”
“Most of my time as mayor was spent under the maxim that it’s better to be respected than to be loved. September 11 unlocked compassion in me that I typically reserved for my family and very close friends. I discovered that revealing your love and compassion does not weaken leadership. It makes it stronger.”
“Allowing doubt, fear and worry to overtake us is an inevitable path to failure. I could not afford failure after September 11. It was very necessary to reach inside and push the doubts away, and even out, of my thinking.”
“I’ve spent much of my reading on learning about how great leaders that I admired grew up and forged the character each had to deal with different substantial challenges. Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt came to mind. ‘Then only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”
“Love can spark deep moments of profound goodness. When I saw the love of our heroes in New York who looked beyond their own safety or what was best for themselves and focus on the lives and safety of others, I learned that love can help us push aside differences to share our humanity and those things that we have in common.”
“I prayed with these brave men and women. I became very close and was able to learn from these firefighters, police officers and emergency responders, not to mention ordinary every day civilians. At the root of all of this, it was love, and not so much the sense of duty, that caused those firefighters to run into the flaming towers to save those he or she had never met. Love can so powerful it can help us be kind to even those who are cruel to us.”