Long-time Bright Futures Academy staff member John Napolitano spoke with several groups of middle school students today about the events of September 11, 2001. The annual commemoration of the attacks that claimed more than 3000 Americans was delayed due to Hurricane Irma. The students did research papers on the lives of the victims, and Mr. Napolitano shared his personal recollections of the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, where his son, FDNY Lieutenant John Napolitano, Jr, was among the missing following the collapse of the World Trade Center. In addition to his oral history, Mr. Napolitano brought some of the equipment he wore during the recovery operations, as well as a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center. Mr. Napolitano stressed to the students that his son's life was heroic before that tragic day, and that they could all make heroic choices in their own lives.
“He was a hero not because he died on 9-11, he was a hero because of how he lived," Mr. John said. "You don’t have to run into a burning building to be a hero, be respectful of others, be respectful of yourself.”