A Hero, A Tragedy, and a Father’s Love – A SierraMadreNews.Net 9/11 Tradition

Letter on Memorial Wall at Colorado Springs

Posted 9/8/14– Each year as we approach September 11th, SierraMadreNews.Net looks back in memory of those who died on Sept. 11th, 2001, when the US was attacked on its own soil for the first time since WWII.  Nearly 3000 people died that day, 2,996 people, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims. The victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon.  Among the dead were 343  members of FDNY, 340 firefighters, a chaplain, and two paramedics.  A 344th firefighter was also killed, a volunteer firefighter named Glenn Winuk from Jericho, NY, who was working as an attorney in a building a block and a half from the towers.  After escorting employees of the firm from their building, he was last seen sprinting towards the towers.

According to Wikipedia, the NYPD lost 23 officers, the Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers. Eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were also killed, bringing the total number of emergency workers that died to 411 (412, since Wikipedia is apparently also unaware of Mr. Winuk).

Among the 411 was a firefighter by the name of Lt. John P. Napolitano, Jr.  John was a member of the elite Rescue 2 unit of the FDNY, after having started as a volunteer at the Lakeland Fire Dept., where he rose to be the Chief, and then the Commissioner.  The Lakeland Fire Dept. has since been renamed in his honor.  I attended the memorial held to honor firefighters that gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2000, 2001 and 2002 in September of 2002.  The fallen from 2000/2001 that would ordinarily have been honored in 2001 were memorialized in 2002 because with flights grounded when the ceremony took place in Sept. of 2001, there was very low attendance that year.

While there, I chanced upon a letter written by Lt. Napolitano’s father, John Napolitano, himself a veteran of the NYPD (click on image at left).  I was very moved by the experience, and wrote about it on the News Net site.  A couple years later, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from  John, who had come across my site online.  With that e-mail began a long relationship which has resulted in several articles that have been published over the years, including Mr. Napolitano’s account of several of the ground zero memorial ceremonies, and letters that he occasionally writes to his son, and more.  In 2006, the five year anniversary, I ran a seven part series of articles on the News Net and in the San Gabriel Valley Weekly newspaper.  Since then, there have been periodic updates. I’m very proud that Mr. Napolitano allows me to share his thoughts and feelings with my readers, and I’m proud to count Mr. Napolitano as a friend (a friend that I hope to someday meet…)

There’s a lot to read here, if you’re going to read it all.  Grab yourself a cup of coffee and relax, maybe read a little now, a little tomorrow, etc.. But grab some tissues, too.  You will be moved by his words.

John Napolitano, who will testify at Mohammed hearing, holds up a picture of his son. Photo courtesy of John Napolitano

Published 2006

A Hero, A Tragedy, and a Father’s Love, Part 1     Part 2    Part 3   Part 4    Part 5    Part 6     Part 7 (account of the 2006 Ground Zero ceremony)

Published 2011

A Hero, A Tragedy, and a Father’s Love, Part 8Mr. Napolitano’s reflections on the 10th anniversary of 9/11

Published in 2012

A Hero, A Tragedy, and a Father’s Love, an update

Published in 2013

A New Year’s Message from John Napolitano

A 9/11 Message from John Napolitano





A Hero, A Tragedy, and a Father’s Love, Part 8 in a Series – New for 2011