Monday, September 11, 2006

Sharing a hero

Today we all wore Red, White and Blue today in honor of the anniversary of 9/11. Since I teach in a school that has a population heavy with military dependents, it's pretty easy to get everyone decked out patriotically. And considering that many of my kids have a parent (or parents) who have been deployed several times since 9/11, it's not something too far away from our thoughts.

But I still worry that my 12 year olds may not be old enough to really remember when the world changed.

So today, because I had a few minutes, I wanted to tell them about one of my personal heroes.

His name is Rick Rescorla.

If you happen to have a copy of the fabulous book, We Were Soldiers Once...And Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway, Rick Rescorla's picture is on the front cover. (And yes, Mel Gibson was in the movie based on this book a few years ago). Mr. Rescorla was a native of Cornwall, England, became an American citizen and served in Viet Nam. In 1965, he and 450 members of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry were dropped into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley and were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese Soldiers. Nearly 350 U.S. Soldiers died and Rick Rescorla did everything he could to bring as many of his men alive out of that battlefield as he could.

Fast forward 35 years later and Rick Rescorla is a corporate security expert for Morgan Stanley, with offices in the World Trade Center. His knowledge of terrorism and his expertise in security had convinced him to develop very detailed plans in the event of an attack on the towers (he was there during the previous attack in 1993). Many people say that he's the man who predicted 9/11. Regardless, he put his plan into place and immediately began evacuating the employees of Morgan Stanley as soon as the first plane struck.

Rick Rescorla lead 3,494 employees of Morgan Stanley to safety on that day.

Out of 3,500.

Four of the people who didn't make it out were Rick Rescorla himself, along with three of his deputies, Wesley Mercer, Jorge Velazquz, and Goodwin Forde. They went back in to make sure that everyone was out safely.

I admire people who do incredible things and put other people ahead of themselves. That sense of selflessness never ceases to astound me.

That is why Rick Rescorla is one of my hereos.

That's what I told my kids today. And they listened, quietly, and perhaps, just maybe, they understood what a hero really is.

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