Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Heroes in Blue

Lord I ask for courage

Courage to face and
Conquer my own fears...

Courage to take me
Where others will not go...

I ask for strength

Strength of body to protect others
And strength of spirit to lead others...

I ask for dedication

Dedication to my job, to do it well
Dedication to my community
To keep it safe...

Give me Lord, concern
For others who trust me
And compassion for those who need me...

And please Lord

Through it all
Be at my side...
-"The Police Officer's Prayer"
--Author Unknown

On the morning of September 11, 2001 the first law enforcement response to the horrific events of that day came from the men and women of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department.  September 11, 2001 exacted a historic toll on the PAPD - as it did on the FDNY and the NYPD.  Thirty-seven members of the PAPD were killed that morning in the valiant struggle to save as many people as they could at the Twin Towers and the entire World Trade Center complex.

Uhuru G. Houston.  Officer Uhuru G. Houston was but thirty-two years young in September 2001.  He was not a physicallly big man - only 5'6" tall - but he carried himself with the confidence and the certainty of one who knew how to handle himself.  Mark Twain, while never having met Officer Houston, appeared to have him in mind when he observed that, "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog".  In addition to walking a beat daily at the World Trade Center, Officer Houston was a husband and a father.  Shortly before his death at Ground Zero, he had moved his family across the Hudson River to a home in Englewood, New Jersey.  It was there that he and his wife Sonya and their two small children, their son Hasani (age 5) and their daughter Hannah (20 months), planned to make a better life for themselves.  They had in fact already done so.  They simply did not have as much time to live it as they had hoped.  

Joseph M. Navas.   At age 44, Officer Joseph Navas spent approximately half of his life as a member of the PAPD.  A twenty-year veteran, he had been a member of the PAPD's Emergency Services Unit for seven years as of September 2001.  Saving others from tight spots was in his DNA.  Shortly before rushing into Hell at the World Trade Center that terrible Tuesday morning, Officer Navas had rescued two persons from the George Washington Bridge, from which they had apparently planned to commit suicide.  In 1993, he was one of the PAPD officers who helped those injured by what unfortunately has become known as "the first World Trade Center bombing".  He loved what he did.  He loved what he did almost as much as he loved his family.  Almost.  But not quite.  His wife of fifteen years, Karen, and their three children (Jessica 12, Joey 9 and Justin 3) were his center.  When he was not putting himself into harm's way to save another, he was with them - content to shoot baskets in his driveway, whether on the regulation hoop or the 3-foot high hoop, or to play catch with them.  


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