The Nation

New York's Female Leaders Express Sorrow, Hope

Friday, September 14, 2001

The city's first woman firefighter still working to save lives, the African American Manhattan borough president, the state's U.S. senator with worldwide name recognition are united in expressing not only sadness but determination to rebuild.

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Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. representative, New York City

"As soon as I learned of the attacks on the Trade Center, I drove to Manhattan to be with my family and offer assistance to my friends and neighbors," Carolyn B. Maloney said. "My heart is warmed by the response of our city--the rescue workers, the medical response teams, the orderly evacuation of lower Manhattan by the people who work and live there and the thousands who have gone to blood donor centers."

"We are the most diverse city in the world but today we are united as one," Maloney added. Maloney was spending most of her time on the site of World Trade Center tragedy activities, working shoulder to shoulder with volunteers, according to her press secretary.


Carolyn McCarthy, U.S. representative, Long Island, New York

Carolyn McCarthy, a health care worker who first ran for office after her husband was killed in a rampage on a commuter railroad, spoke directly to victims and their families.

"It is with heavy hearts that we turn our anger and energies into help for the victims and their families as they try to make sense of this act of war on our great country." McCarthy said that she was working with colleagues on emergency spending for victims and their families as they "face futures forever changed." New York, she said, "has seen many tragedies," and would come through this one united and stronger than ever.

Ruth Messinger, president and director of American Jewish World Service

"It's a tragedy of immense proportions. We haven't begun to experience or understand it yet. It's a situation experienced in other countries, where everyone you know is going to know someone who died. There's going to be a need for a lot of attention and loving and caring for each other," said Messinger. Her organization has begun a relief fund to assist World Trade Center victims and emergency needs.

Messinger, a former mayoral candidate and a long-time member of the New York City council, spoke about a concern that many other women's leaders have expressed.

"I certainly hope that women are included in the effort to increase a commitment to dialogue across racial, ethnic and religious lines. From my work as a social worker, in politics and now in international affairs, I know that women are better at this."

Liz Holtzman, attorney and former comptroller of New York City

"The smoke makes me think of concentration camps and the mass destruction of human life. It breaks my heart," said Holtzman. The lawyer represented New York in Congress in the 1970s and was well-known for her role in the Watergate inquiry and on tracking Nazi war criminals.

"But it's so emotional. I think men are reacting the same way as women. It goes beyond gender in terms of pain and grief," Holtzman added, noting that children were on the airplanes and could have been in day care centers at the World Trade Center. "This kind of fanaticism that so denigrates humanity spells trouble for everyone."

Nita M. Lowey, U.S. representative from Westchester County, the suburban area north of New York City

"These terrorist attacks were directed at the very idea of America itself," said Representative Nita M. Lowey. In the House of Representatives, Lowey went on to describe the sad farewells between trapped employees and loved ones elsewhere.

"My children called to share their shock, and to tell of a friend whose husband--trapped on a high floor in one of the towers--called only to say goodbye to the wife he knew he would never see again. All around him, his colleagues were on the phone to their loved ones--for the last time.

Leaving her personal experiences, Lowey addressed "all those who have lost so much."

"We want you to know that our hearts and prayers are with you," she said. "All of America stands with you. For the man who called to tell his wife just one last time that he loved her--for the hundreds of brave officers, firefighters, and rescue workers who sacrificed their lives so others might live--we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice. There will be no safe harbor for those who would visit such enormous devastation on our citizens.

"No more glorifying violence. No more praise for martyrdom, " Lowey added. "Those who rejoice in our tragedy will be exiled from the community of nations. Our people and our landmarks have been attacked, but the essence of America is indestructible. Our core principles--justice, liberty, and democracy--will remain forever unscathed."

Nydia M. Velazquez, U.S. representative, New York City

Representative Velazquez, a Democrat, issued a statement, assuring that she stood in solidarity with the president. "No one should doubt our unity and our commitment to rebuild in the wake of this deliberate tragedy," she said.

She also spoke directly to the rescue workers and city volunteers: "Thousands of you risked your lives to help others as smoke, ash and debris rained on you. Thousands more of you streamed into blood donation centers to meet an incredible demand, saving countless more lives. Your spirit and resilience make our city and our country great. Together we will rebuild our city even greater than it was before."

Louise M. Slaughter, U.S. representative, New York State

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter said: "We are all brokenhearted over the needless loss of life that has occurred. Too many beloved spouses, parents, siblings, and children had their futures snatched away by madmen. Scores of firefighters, police officers, and rescue personnel were lost when their dedication drove them to the scene and into the damaged buildings to help the victims. These men and women are national heroes.

"As time passes, more stories of heroism will emerge--people who put their own lives at risk in order to aid others. I am astounded and very proud to have heard how many people stayed calm in the midst of chaos. Time and again, we heard how perfect strangers reached out to help each other survive and escape. In the worst of circumstances, the very best in these people emerged."


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Content Manager Siobhan Benet contributed to this story.

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