Saturday, September 26, 2015

In the Company of a King

Hollywood has a pre-conceived notion - a stereotype - of a successful Partner at a prestigious New York City law firm.  Glenn Winuk, in all likelihood, would not have been the first hopeful to be summoned from Central Casting to read for the role.  And to him, that would have made no difference whatsoever. 

Glenn Winuk was a well-regarded and successful partner in the New York City office of Holland & Knight, which office in the fall of 2001 was located in Lower Manhattan at the corner of Broadway and Dey Street - a couple of blocks east of the Twin Towers.  Mr. Winuk, who was forty years young, was in his midtown Manhattan apartment on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, when he learned of the attack on the World Trade Center.  He dashed downtown - first to his law firm to ensure that everyone there evacuated the premises safely - and then to the Twin Towers so that he could assist in the rescue effort. 

Born and raised in Jericho, New York, Glenn Winuk had been a member of the Jericho Volunteer Fire Department from the time that he was old enough to join.  He maintained his membership in the Department for more than twenty years in spite of the rigors of his career and in spite of the fact that he worked and lived in Manhattan.  He was drawn to helping others.  

His reaction on September 11, 2001 was the same reaction he had had in February, 1993, when terrorists blew up a bomb in the World Trade Center's underground parking garage.  On both occasions he ran headlong into danger and used his training as a firefighter and as an emergency medical technician to help those who needed it.  In 1993, his selflessness did not result in his death. Tragically, eight and one-half years later, it did. 

Through the tireless efforts of his parents, Elaine and Seymour, and his brother, Jay, in 2006 Glenn Winuk was inducted as a member of the FDNY Honor Legion for his actions on September 11, 2001, becoming the first non-FDNY member to attain that recognition. In 2009, his family received the 9/11 Heroes of Valor Medal, which honors public safety officers who were killed on September 11.  

His name is also emblazoned on the magnificent Memorial Wall at Ten House, which I assure you - having seen it on multiple occasions - must be seen in person to be truly and fully appreciated, in acknowledgment of his heroism on that terrible day.

Memorial at Ten House

Glenn Winuk was not recovered from Ground Zero until March 2002.  His body was recovered in the company of other first responders in what had once been the lobby of the South Tower.  In his honor and to honor his memory, his brother, Jay, and a friend, David Paine, formed a non-profit called, which is directed toward channeling positive energy by honoring the memory of those who died while focusing on helping those in need.  Through the efforts of Mr. Winuk and Mr. Paine, September 11 has been designated - under Federal law - as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  The only other day so recognized under Federal law is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

I never met Glenn Winuk but I think, nevertheless, he would be quite honored to keep such distinguished company.  

I suspect that Dr. King would feel likewise. 

Lieutenant Glenn Winuk
Jericho Fire Department



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