My brother Joseph Sardo and his wife Mary were honored as Douglas' Grand Marshals at your Fourth of July celebration and parade.
I just would like your committee to know how honored and proud I am that Joe is my brother. On 9/11 watching the events unfold on TV all I could think of was the horror and tragedy I and countless others were witnessing. Then my thoughts immediately went to the NYFD and in particular my brother Joe and all the others I knew who were there in the middle of this nightmare. I tried to call my sister-in-law to see if Joe was on duty. She said he had been off that morning but was nearby and was on his way to help his brothers. Our family (and of course hundreds of other families) were in a state of shock, disbelief and intense worry for the safety of our brother.
You could always see the WTC in the distance only a few blocks from my home. This day myself and countless others just stood and watched the smoke and flames, praying, silent in our thoughts and fear, not knowing what next to expect. I wondered how to explain this to my young son. Will I be able to keep him safe and secure?
Between the TV new reports and the first hand reports of others whose family members were at the scene the horrors just seemed unimaginable. The worse was not knowing if Joe was all right, after all these guys are a unique bunch of unassuming heroes. Their bravery and heart have no boundaries. (The FD had just lost three great men that previous Father's Day.) They live to help others - and each other. We knew these men would be in the middle of it all. At that time no one really knew the extent of their bravery, or of their losses. Unfortunately, the world found out soon enough.
Finally, word came from Mary. She had heard from Joe. He was OK but had lost many friends and colleagues. The carnage unspeakable. My brother stayed at the scene for weeks with search and recovery rarely resting and in between going to funerals or memorial services for fallen comrades.
As the weeks and months unfolded my gratitude for my brother's safety was only outweighed by his unassuming bravery and strength of spirit. He is a true hero and our family is so very proud of him.
While the majority of peoples lives are back to "normal," we can always rest a bit more comfortably knowing that there will always be the men and women in the armed services defending our country's freedom and those local American heroes - fire, police and emergency service - who will always be there for those in need.
Long Beach, N.Y.