Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Story of a Man Named Cirri

Once upon a lifetime ago, when the world seemed to be a quantifiably more benign place than it is presently, Hollywood brought "The Brady Bunch" into our living rooms on a weekly basis.  The story of a melded American family as a single mother, with three daughters in tow, met, fell in love with, and married a single father who served as the patriarch of three sons. 

The life of Lieutenant Robert Cirri of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department did not mirror that of that man named Brady but it came pretty damn close.  Lt. Cirri, at age thirty-nine already a veteran of fifteen years on the job for the Port Authority when he was killed on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.  Lt. Cirri, a divorced dad, had met and fallen in love with his second wife, Eileen Cirri, while he was moonlighting as a paramedic and she was working as an Emergency Room nurse at Hackensack University Medical Center.  Eileen, whose first marriage had also ended in divorce, was the mother of three kids of her own...all of whom were girls.  The resulting blended family featured Robert and Eileen and their stable of five children, all of whom were between the ages of twelve and eighteen at the time of his death.

Lt. Cirri talked to Eileen that terrible morning, not too very long before he was killed while coming to the aid of others.  He called her to tell her that he could not stand by and watch other people in need of help without doing whatever he could to help them himself.  While his decision was one that likely terrified his wife, it was undoubtedly one that she understood.  When danger beckoned, he ran towards it to keep others safe from it as fast as he possibly could.  It was how he was wired.

At the time of the collapse of the North Tower, at or about 10:28 AM on that terrible Tuesday, Lt. Cirri was one of several Port Authority Police officers attempting to help carry a woman to safety in a rescue chair.  His body - and that of his fellow officers - was recovered from Ground Zero several months after the attacks. 

Tragically, the North Tower collapsed as he and the other officers were only a few dozen feet from the building's exit.


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