Memories of Heroes Surround Our Lives

Memories of Heroes Surround Our Lives

 Sept. 11 changed everything, but also served to amplify all the good in local sports.

September 11th is one of my first thoughts at least five days a week: There's that hole in the New York City skyline every morning I drive my wife to the ferry.

Almost always, the hole comes with a memory, a picture really of someone who perished there, usually an athlete, the son of a friend who suffered my worst fear: Outliving one of his or her children.

It could be Chuck Margiotta whose dad, Charlie, is one of those selected to read names from the list of heroes and victims at the sacred hole in the ground in Manhattan today.

Chuck was the backbone of the St. Rita's youth sports program the day he parked his car, climbed aboard a fire truck loaded with heroes, and headed back to Manhattan. A ferocious football player at Monsignor Farrell and then at Brown, he treated parental misconduct at youth basketball games like the mortal sin it is.

But my first thought isn't of that. It's the nights I saw him the previous spring when he came to the St. George Evening School to pick up his wife, Norma. While waiting for her to finish work, Chuck was so quiet, so laid back, like a kid who had been caught in the hallway when he belonged in class.

The thing is I never thought of any of them as heroes. Great kids who had become solid citizens, sure. Heroes? Not until 9/11.

They were before then; so were many of the victims who were active in the community. I just didn't appreciate it. Neither did I truly realize that, in this community, I'm surrounded by heroes: Those who have established funds or foundations to help others, or simply given selflessly of their time to work with kids or help those less fortunate.

City Councilman Mike McMahon said it so well in April of 2002 at the opening of the West Shore Little League's renovated complex, itself the work of heroes, when he said, "September 11th taught us heroes live next door and down the street," McMahon said. "What we see here today with this complex shows us they still do."
 Jack Minogue / Staten Island Advance