FDNY firefighters and victims' families outraged over Guiliani's upcoming role in 9/11/07 Ground Zero ceremonies
Rudy's role in 9/11 ceremony sparks ire
By David Freedlander, amNewYork Staff Writer email@example.com
August 28, 2007
Almost six years after Rudy Giuliani became America's mayor as he guided the city through the worst terror attack in U.S. history, many of those who stood by him then are now attacking his traditional role at the annual memorial ceremony at Ground Zero.
Criticism is coming his way because he's running for president and has been accused of exploiting 9/11 to lift his national profile.
"I think it's a horrible decision and I'm outraged," said Jim Riches of Brooklyn, whose son died in the attack on the World Trade Center and who is also a deputy chief with the fire department. "Seventy percent of us are now sick because he lied about the air quality down at Ground Zero, and he was too busy raising money and going to the World Series to pay attention to what was happening down there. He should just go to a Yankees baseball game instead."
Many rescue workers fault Giuliani for what they see as a flawed response to the attacks that lead to more deaths on 9/11, and from illnesses after the cleanup. That's why they are troubled by his presense at a ceremony at which many first responders will perform the ceremonial reading of the names of dead.
"That this man, whose actions and inactions were so significant in the deaths of so many firefighters and innocent civilians, would be reading at this ceremony is insulting," said Sally Regenhard of the Bronx, whose son, Christian, was a rookie firefighter who was killed when the towers collapsed. "This is my son's memorial service. This isn't for a failed politician who wants to run for president."
Firefighter Lee Ielpi, whose son died on 9/11, defended Giuliani.
"The mayor was there for the city and our country on Sept. 11," he told the Associated Press.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Giuliani's role yesterday, but originally said that Giuliani would participate in the reading of the names. But later, a Bloomberg spokesman clarified the mayor's remarks and said that Giuliani would just read a passage from a text. A spokesman for the Giuliani presidential campaign declined comment, but did note that the former mayor participates each year in the ceremony.
That Giuliani is a declared candidate for the Republican nomination makes this year different, though, for FDNY Lt. Jim McCaffrey of the Bronx.
"He is using the heroism of 9/11 as a presidential campaign photo-op and I find that loathsome," he said. "I'm a conservative Republican, but we just want people to know the truth about Rudy Giuliani."
McCaffrey's brother-in-law was killed when the South Tower collapsed.
Dan Collins, who co-authored "Grand Illusion," a critical examination of Giuliani's handling of the 9/11 attacks, agreed that the former mayor's appearance in the heat of a presidential campaign could cheapen the ceremony.
"Under normal circumstances it would be completely appropriate, but now that Giuliani has wrapped his presidency in the 9/11 tragedy there is something unseemly about it," he said.
Giuliani has been dogged on the campaign trail by protesters angered over what they see as his exploitation of a tragedy to further his political career. And despite some rank-and file members calling for a boycott, Lt. Stephen Carbone, the vice-president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said no action was planned for Sept. 11.
"It's going to be a day where we put all the politics away and just celebrate the day as much as we can."