A public filled with dread needed consoling. President George W. Bush was incommunicado most of the day. But Giuliani was there among the smoking debris, the only visible political figure offering solace and, even more importantly, reassurance that life would go on.
He spoke eloquently about the collective grief. Asked how many had died, he said, “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear.”
But he also pleaded with New Yorkers to keep faith in the future. “Tomorrow, New York is going to be here,” he said.
The most calming thing he said that afternoon was that two of the subway lines were again operating and named which ones. Yes, it was going to be OK.
Giuliani became “America’s Mayor,” hailed as the ash-covered leader of 9/11. Time magazine made him “Person of the Year,” and Queen Elizabeth gave him an honorary knighthood.
The backstory of Giuliani’s role in 9/11 was less inspiring. One reason he became the hero of the streets was that he had pushed to place the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in the worst possible location, on the 23rd floor inside the 7 World Trade Center building. The office was created in response to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and the site was considered among the top targets for terrorists.
Giuliani has long had a strained relationship with the truth but went over the deep end in 2019 by peddling a theory that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. He forever disgraced himself by pushing lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump — culminating in his speech on Jan. 6, calling on Trump supporters to engage in “trial by combat” right before they ravaged the capital.
There’s been much speculation about what happened to him. In New York City, he could have had bridges, roads and schools named for him. All that’s left is a memory of Giuliani’s finest hour urging battle against fear in the darkness of 9/11.