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Rudy Giuliani: America's Mayor

In the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center, Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed New Yorkers and the world what great leadership is about.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01

(continued from page 2)

At the promotion ceremony, the mayor was overwhelmed by the reality of the past week's event, and sitting on the dais, he folded his hands and rested his chin on them. He spoke for all New Yorkers. "I want you to know that the prayers of every single New Yorker, I believe every single American, is with you. Your willingness to go on forward undaunted in the most difficult of circumstances is an inspiration to all of us… Winston Churchill, the leader of war-torn England who saw his country through the Battle of Britain with bombings every day, once said, ëCourage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it's the quality that guarantees all others.' Without courage, nothing else can really happen. And there is no better example, none, no better example of courage than the Fire Department of the City of New York." He went on, saying that everyone in the world wants to live in a country where human life is valued the way New York firefighters value human life. "That's the future we want for our children. That's the future we want for the rest of the world. It's what America has always wanted. And, it's something that you embody in a way that can be an example to America."

Later, Giuliani attended the wedding of Diane Gorumba, whom he had met at the funeral of her brother, Michael, a firefigher who died on the job in August. Her father and grandfather also had died recently, and Diane's mother, Gail, wondered who would give her away. At that funeral, the mayor promised Diane's mother that he would walk her daughter down the aisle. Giuliani showed up in a tuxedo, and kissed her on the cheek and presented her to her new husband, 31-year-old police officer Michael Ferrito. "It felt wonderful to be part of this," the mayor said. "This is what life is all about. You have to go on and take advantage of the good things in life."

In a profoundly moving testament to the human spirit, by Monday morning, September 17, New York and New Yorkers started edging back toward normalcy. The New York Stock Exchange opened. The Mercantile Exchange opened. Mayor Giuliani told the traders at the latter that, "Somehow for some reason, God decided who was going to survive. You are all survivors, and I believe that's for a reason. Somehow, God wants us all to feel the obligation we have." His speech was greeted with chants of "Four More Years."

It was the seventh day, a week of hell on earth, but also a week when the spirit of New York and New Yorkers began to counter the evil that had been visited upon it. Mayor Giuliani uncannily, and repeatedly, found just the right mix of hard-nosed administrator, protector and sympathetic father confessor bearing the pain of his flock. Without fail, he presented an image of a man in control, while letting the world know his emotions were strong. "I've been able to mourn intermittently," he said a week later. "But no, I really haven't had time to mourn."

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, more than a week after the attack, he lifted the veil on another horrible fact: "We have to prepare people for the overwhelming reality that the chance of recovering anyone alive is very, very small." On Wednesday, he exhorted people to be more optimistic: "We're hurt, and we're going to hurt for the next day, for a month, maybe forever. I think we are going to hurt forever. But we have to be optimistic." Finally, on Thursday, he had to reveal another depressing statistic. The tally of the missing was raised from 5,422 to 6,333. A few days later it was revised to more than 6,400, and then later, mercifully, back down to 5,680 due to some double-counting of people.

The mayor's most compelling moment may have taken place Sunday, September 23, in Yankee Stadium, an interfaith memorial service for the city's firefighters, police officers and EMT workers. Giuliani was joined not only by friends and allies, and the leadership of the city's firefighters and police and rescue workers, but also by some of his political rivals. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch. Gov. George Pataki. It was a public demonstration of something he had told a televised news conference. "There are no politics here. It's about being an American. Not a Democrat. Not a Republican. All those little ideologies. All those little fights we have. They don't mean anything. We're all together. We need to rely on each other. We need to help each other. We need to fight back. We need to prevail."

In the memorial service at the stadium, he built on that theme with a story of St. Paul's Chapel, which was located literally in the shadows of the World Trade Center towers. On an inside wall at the chapel is one of the earliest known renditions of the Great Seal of the United States of America. "It's the majestic eagle, holding in one talon an olive branch, and in the other, a cluster of arrows, a forewarning of our determination to defend our liberty," he said. "On a banner above the eagle, it is written E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one." He described how a dozen modern buildings near the chapel, which was built in 1766, had collapsed or were heavily damaged but the chapel didn't sustain a single broken window. The mayor said: "The presence of that chapel standing defiant and serene amid the ruins of war sends an eloquent message about the strength and resilience of the people of New York City and the people of America. We unite under the banner of E Pluribus Unum."

Facing the people of the city he loved and standing in front of some his staunchest allies and most bitter foes, the Yankee Stadium service can only be seen as unequivocal evidence of a man transformed. One of his best friends, and cigar-smoking buddies, Elliot Cukor, dismisses talk that somehow the days since September 11, and his bout with prostate cancer last year, have fundamentally changed the mayor. Instead, Cukor explains they have let him show his true, inner self. "From day one, I was aware of the compassion that Rudy had. These times are only bringing to the surface what has always been there. In times of trouble, people's real inner self comes out and that's when you find out what the person really is. He hasn't changed. It's always there."


Rudolph William Louis Giuliani was born on May 28, 1944 in Brooklyn, New York, to Helen and Harold Giuliani. The Giulianis' extended family included police officers, firefighters and some members who were convicted of criminal acts. Rudy's immediate family moved to Garden City, Long Island, in 1951, where he attended a local Catholic school, St. Anne's, and then he commuted back to Brooklyn to attend Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. His love of the New York Yankees began in those years, and today, he's a good friend of Yankees manager Joe Torre. He graduated in 1961, and attended Manhattan College, graduating from there in 1965 magna cum laude. He decided to go to New York University Law School, from which he received a magna cum laude degree in 1968. He clerked for Judge Lloyd MacMahon in the Southern District of New York. In 1970, he joined the office of the the U.S. Attorney, and then, he became chief of the narcotics unit at the U.S. Department of Justice. After working in a private law firm for several years, Giuliani returned to public service when President Ronald Reagan named him associate attorney general. In May 1981, at the age of 36, he was sworn in as the youngest associate attorney general in history.

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