Posted 9/10/13 – Longtime readers will recall that former NYPD officer John Napolitano has been an occasional contributor, and most especially around 9/11, the anniversary of the day his son, Lt. John Napolitano of FDNY was killed in the World Trade Center in 2001. Through the years, John has provided several articles to the News Net, including first hand accounts of memorials held at Ground Zero in the early years after the attack. John has become rather well known for his efforts to make sure his son and the other victims of 9/11 are never forgotten, and recently was asked to be an impact witness at the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other alleged terrorists accused of masterminding the attacks, the trial taking place at Guantanamo Bay.
This year, John is sharing his thoughts about his son John and John’s two granddaughters, Elizabeth and Emma Rose, who were just youngsters when there father died, but who are now in high school and college. Thank you John, for sharing your feelings, and I want you to know that here in Sierra Madre, as long as I’m around, your son will be remembered as a hero, not for “…how he died, he was a hero for how he lived…”
From John Napolitano…
The Daughters of Lt John P Napolitano, Rescue 2…you would be so Proud of them Son, they are so much like you..I see you in their smiles, and I hear you when they laugh..Lt O’Berg was right. It was long ago, March 11th 2002, Lenny and I went to 10 Company, we met with Firefighter “Woody” and then the three of us walked over to what was no longer there, and as we were walking in the near distance, I saw a Fireman on his hands and knees, sifting through the dirt. Woody said to me “that’s one of the Fathers..he lost his Son, also a Fireman”. We walked over and Woody introduced us to Lt O’Berg. “This is John and Lenny, they were with the NYPD, Lenny lost his brother, and John his son, both with the FDNY…John, this is Lt O’Berg..he lost his son also.”
We shook hands and then we hugged, as if we knew each other for years, and then we spoke..we spoke about those early days during the search..how the screeching sounds
from alarms of Firefighters not moving, was tearing my heart out. Was one of those alarms my Son’s..how I still hear it. We spoke about our “Boys”..first the Lieutenant, than me and so on, back and forth.. I told the Lieutenant, how much I loved to babysit my Granddaughters at my house, watching them play where their Daddy grew up, how Emma, then 3 yrs old would point at her Fathers Photo, and with a big smile say..”that’s my Daddy”..and I would say back to her..”That’s right..that’s your Daddy”.. Elizabeth, then 6 years old loved to draw. One day after drawing something and coloring, I saw her go into her Father’s old bedroom with the drawing, when she came out she didn’t have the paper, so I went into the room to see what she drew, and on her Fathers childhood Dresser was a drawing of a little girl with golden hair and in a Child’s print were the words..”Daddy I Love You”.
Lt O’Berg and I went silent for awhile and then he looked at me and he said to me something that I needed to hear, but from someone who walked in my boots, he said..”You know, in a way, you’re Lucky”..I said..”how so”?, he then said..”My Son just got married, I don’t have from him Grandchildren..but you have your Son’s daughters..you have a piece of him”..
That was almost 12 years ago, but I hear the Lieutenant’s words as if it were yesterday, and from time to time I see Lt O’Berg at a 9/11 Anniversary or a Ceremony, and we give each other a big hug, we smile a little and we cry a little, and I will never forget the day I saw a Fireman sifting through the dirt of the World Trade Center, looking for his son..and looking for mine.
So Son, I thank you so much for your ” Little Girls”..but they are big now, and they have carried me through difficult days, your Mother too, and they will continue to carry us. Elizabeth is in College now, and Emma is in High School, and they are so beautiful..you would be so Proud..Oh, and Son, one other thing. Emma is a Junior Volunteer Firefighter, with Lakeland, just as you were..and Son..SHE WEARS YOUR CAP..