Stella Lohmann
Bernard Kerik's courage under fire on 9/11 and today
Interview July 2009, New York, NY
By Stella Lohmann
September 8, 2009

Eight years haven't erased horrific images and gut wrenching emotions of September 11, 2001 the day the world stood still the day 343 New York firemen, 23 NYPD and 37 Port Authority officers perished as they attempted to do their jobs protect the people of New York City. As the world watched live broadcasts of two jetliners careening into the Twin Towers, more than 2300 civilians, women, men and children would be trapped and incinerated along with those who used two aircrafts as weapons of mass destruction.

Eight years later, September 11th is nationally observed as Patriot's Day, in honor of the fallen: civilians on Flight 93 who overpowered their hijackers and died saving the White House from a possible attack, government workers at their desks as a third jet slammed into the Pentagon and the thousands of innocent civilians martyred in NYC as America went to war unexpectedly.

An estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000! September 11th in Numbers No one person witnessed the pain, managed the efforts, and lived the aftermath of 9/11 like Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik his life forever changed as he stood side by side advising Mayor Rudy Giuliani and President Bush in the days and months that followed strategizing the next move and contemplating what else could happen. It was the worst attack on the US mainland. Pearl Harbor awoke a Sleeping Giant after Japanese fighters dropped bombs annihilating ships while crews slept on a cool December 7th, in 1941. 9/11 awoke America to a world threatened by terrorists.

Kerik agreed graciously to relive those events etched forever in his memory as we drove through the Big Apple. His memories are thick with details of people jumping out of windows to their death, firemen and police officers running up the Twin Towers packing heavy equipment, and the massive evacuations of a city within hours of the attacks. It was a day that never ended. Kerik says it was just the beginning of 16 to 20 hour days weeks on end and thousands of decisions and plans never contemplated before in American history. Amazingly he, like Mayor Giuliani, attended hundreds of funerals for friends, for colleagues, and for those who died just because there went to work that day.

Kerik recalled Father Judge, the NYFD chaplain, making the sign of the cross over him and Mayor Giuliani then saying, "Be safe," as the two made their way to a command center from the bottom of Tower II. Forty minutes later, Tower II would implode as the Father and others ran into the burning inferno to save others.

"Imagine you wake up one day and every best friend you have ever had is gone," reflected Kerik. Indeed, imagine. There were no indications that America would be under attack when the sun rose that September morning. There were no blue prints to follow or others to ask what to do. Kerik just responded. The native New Jersey boy grew up in foster homes and later joined the City's finest only to catapult from undercover detective to Commissioner of the nation's largest city.

Shortly after 9/11 the United States retaliated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Kerik was appointed by President George W. Bush as Interim Deputy of Interior in Iraq. Again Kerik used his bullish-no-nonsense approach to law and order and established a civilian force to maintain the peace in a newly emerging democracy. Kerik managed to lead at home and abroad training others including the troops on how to keep America safe.

Eight years later Kerik is battling charges filed against him the day after he turned down an appointment by President Bush as America's first Homeland Security Director. Kerik withdrew his name in order not to draw the President into legal battles alleging tax evasion, conspiracy, and lying under oath. Next month, Kerik will stand before a Judge to answer these charges that have been dropped several times only to be filed again under different jurisdictions. The outcome could vindicate or him next month. Bernard Kerik: The Trial of an American Hero

Neither can take away from his career of faithful service in law enforcement particularly through this nation's darkest hour in recent history. Bernard Kerik has served his country abroad training American troops toward an emerging democracy in the Middle East. Bernard Kerik has endured incredible pressures for the sake of his fellow Americans. On this September 11th Kerik perhaps should be at the top of the list of living 9/11 heroes honored for Patriot's Day by a grateful nation.

Kerik speaks candidly about 9/11 to Stella Lohmann in an exclusive July 4th, 2009 interview in NYC.

© Stella Lohmann


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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